Cumberland Times-News

Editorials

December 30, 2012

Fiscal cliff?

Nobody is going to win this political ‘Survivor’

By the time you are reading this on Monday, it may be that calmer heads have prevailed in Washington and that the Congress and the president have found a way to avoid the “fiscal cliff.”

That is, IF the fiscal cliff even exists. There are some who believe it is a made-for-TV news fantasy, something along the lines of “Survivor.”

The difference between “Survivor” and the fiscal cliff is that at the end of the “Survivor” series, someone will be proclaimed the winner and go home with fame and a lot of money.

If America does go off the fiscal cliff — or even if it does not — the only winners will be those who manage to shift the blame to the other side.

Considering that the last time the U.S. Senate passed a budget resolution was on April 29, 2009, don’t look for a major last-minute compromise. At best, there will be an emergency measure passed — as has been done several times in recent years — that merely will kick the can a little bit farther down the road.

The Senate does not deserve all of the blame for this, considering that the House of Representatives frequently passes budget resolutions it knows have no chance of coming to the Senate floor for consideration.

We believe the fiscal cliff is real. So do people whose families and businesses will face big tax increases this year. So do members of our military, whose services will be hit by huge budget cuts. So do those who will be confronted by loss of the government services upon which, through no fault of their own, they depend. And so on.

There are good people in our Congress, in both houses and in both parties. They have good intentions, or at least they start out that way. For too many, it seems the desire to serve the American people turns eventually into a need to do what is necessary to be re-elected.

What infects many of them is an unwillingness to compromise that basically takes the form of “I am right, and you are wrong, and you are a dirty (fill in your favorite expletive) who is morally and ethically corrupt for not agreeing with me.”

That is how it seems to work. It certainly sounds that way. Their arguing drowns out the voices of reasonable men and women who, after they had conducted an appropriate amount of arguing, could figure out what’s best for America.

Old-time politicians — including former senators and representatives and others at all political levels — have told us that’s how it used to be done.

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