fiscal cliff

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Townhall: Hair on Fire

Monday, December 24th, 2012

In case you didn’t notice, the world didn’t end on Friday. Oh, and Paul Jacob’s Sunday column on Townhall.com is up. Click on over, and come back here for more prophetic nourishment.

The bigger cliffs ahead include problems associated with

  • a structurally unsound and unstable Social Security
  • Medicare and Medicaid commitments that are also unsustainable
  • a continuing regime of “too big to fail” providing incentives to another round of risky investments
  • a looming dollar crisis
  • imperial overreach risking the life and liberty (not to mention pocketbooks) of American citizens
  • a general increase in the “gimme gimme” mentality, the political and moral hazard of everyone trying to live at the expense of everyone else.

Any one of these is very bad. Together they threaten the very existence of the union. Here at Common Sense, we’re always interested in these problems, and in finding solutions. So, if you haven’t already, click on the link, above right, and subscribe to the email version of this weekday commentary. Thanks!

Shooting from the Hip

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Wearing his I’m-Not-Partisan-No-Not-Me hat, President Obama has again declared war on partisanship, telling congressional Republicans to “peel off the partisan war paint.”

To be partisan in a bad way is not merely to belong to a political party and more or less support its program. It is to cling to party at the expense of Doing the Right Thing.

Unless, that is, it’s about opposing the program of a president determined to be partisan at the expense of Doing the Right Thing.

I often disagree with both parties. But let’s say that a representative of one party is marginally more reluctant to destroy our wealth and freedom than a representative of another party. Then I prefer the slightly more responsible stance of the former — and wish it were tougher and more consistent — even when the latter engages in name-calling and abuse of the former.

Demanding “perspective,” President Obama declares that he and the Congress should “not put ourselves through some sort of self-inflicted crisis every six months.” And I wholeheartedly agree. These crises happen because their spending programs always go up and up and up, even when a few “cuts” get made.

But the president doesn’t stop there. He explains they must “allow ourselves time to focus on things like preventing the tragedy in Newtown from happening again, focus on issues like energy and immigration reform. . . .”

Um, sir, please do not suggest that an unimpeded path to fiscal ruin is the only way to prevent fiscal ruin, or can somehow enable policymakers to prevent crazy gunmen from killing people. Please.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Death by a Thousand Non-Cuts

Friday, December 14th, 2012

As I write this, the United States of America is $16,275,179,205,442 in debt. By the time you read this, we’ll have piled up millions more.

Much debt is of recent vintage. When George W. Bush became president in 2000, the national red ink totaled $5.7 trillion. In eight years, Dubya nearly doubled it to $10.6 trillion. Since his 2008 election, President Obama has far outpaced Bush, sinking us another $5.3 trillion in debt in just half Bush’s time.

And, by continuing to run yearly deficits of over $1 trillion, we’re digging the hole deeper at top speed.

For all the hysteria over draconian cuts, forced at the so-called fiscal cliff, those somewhat slippery savings would at best amount to about 10 percent of our yearly deficit, leaving us spending 9/10ths of a trillion dollars we don’t have.

In the “other cuts” department, the Obama Administration had been supporting paltry reductions to federal Medicaid spending of $17.6 billion over ten years (that’s less than $2 billion a year), but just flipped its position. Why? State governors are deciding if they can afford to take part in Obamacare’s massive Medicaid expansion to cover those earning up to 133 percent of the poverty line.

Not content to spend recklessly alone, the Feds picks up the entire tab of new Medicare recipients’ first three years. After that, Washington pays 90 percent and the states pay 10.

States are wondering how they’ll come up with that additional 10 percent — seven governors have already declined to join in the spending program. No one in Washington has given a second thought to paying the 90 percent.

They figure they can always raise taxes.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Let’s Jump!

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

When I was a kid, my mother would rhetorically ask, “If your friends jumped off a cliff, Paul, would you?”

Moot question now. My friends don’t dare jump, nor do my political enemies. Face it, Ma, nobody wants to do a swan dive off the fiscal cliff.

Except for me.

It now appears that enough House Republicans will join Democrats in voting to raise taxes on the so-called “wealthy,” thus hiking up taxes on some of my countrymen. It will do little to raise revenue, and nothing to control spending.

We taxpayers should stand together. I oppose being divided and conquered. And when they ask us to turn over Spartacus — er, the wealthy — we should each declare, “I am wealthy!”

Debt-delivering, big-spending politicians relentlessly provide us with pious pronouncements to the effect that, though we simply must stop piling up such debt and cut wasteful and out-of-control spending, because such fiscal responsibility remains unthinkable, at present, we must postpone responsibility till later.

They see the fiscal cliff and insist we climb higher.

Let’s face this fiscal cliff honestly, let’s not pretend that the acme of responsibility is funding government on the backs of the few. Besides, if there is no political will to make spending cuts today or tomorrow, why would anyone expect such backbone to miraculous appear . . . later?

I see the cliff and say, “Let’s jump!” While we can still land safely.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.