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Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Whew! This Is No Way to Run a Government

President Obama certainly earned the well deserved "fiscal cliff" legislation, passed early on the morning of January 2nd 2013, but these catastrophic political analogies are no way to build confidence in our nation's leadership.

President Obama came out a winner in the last-minute “fiscal cliff” deal, that averted income-tax hikes on most Americans and postponed deep federal spending cuts. If the deal had not passed in Congress, both the White House and bipartisan leaders on Capitol Hill would have had egg on their faces. The public would have had just cause to blame Washington for yet another self-inflicted wound that threatened to send stock markets into a spiral and put global economies back into recession. Although Republicans would have been blamed, Mr. Obama, too, would have looked incompetent.

Instead, Obama delivered on his reelection campaign promise: that the wealthiest taxpayers see an increase in their marginal income-tax rate, in 2013. True, his definition of “wealthy” morphed significantly – from $250,000 to $450,000, in annual family income, but, hey (!), who's splitting hairs over a mere $150,000 difference? A much needed tax increase, to help resolve the nation's looming deficit, equals a "tax increase" regardless of the baseline. 


Moreover, Republican tax hawks were finally outvoted in their relentless attempts to keep any new revenues from helping to solve our nation's cavernous budget gap.

Obviously, these cliff hanger, middle of the night, political "deals" are absolutely no way to run any organization, especially, when they're driven to the "mat", so to speak, by national urgency. Our system of "cliff hanger" governance is an embarrassment, especially when the world considers America to be a super-powerful government.

Republicans have lost sight of the fundamental foundation of a Democracy, as visioned by our founding fathers.  "Elections matter".  When President Obama won reelection, his victory was a clear signal about how the people want our nation to proceed, at least, for the foreseeable future.  President Obama's reelection meant (1) Americans support tax increases on the wealthy and super wealthy people (2) Americans do not want to see any more cuts in our social safety nets like Medicaid, or Pell grants for college students or Food Stamps for the poor, and (3) Americans want our political leaders to compromise on sweeping budget reforms to bring our fiscal house in order.  

Keeping those three bullets in mind might be a succinct way for the new Congress to begin their important leadership work, beginning this week in Washington DC.  Meanwhile, the Republicans, who lost the 2012 election, might be required to take a Civics 101 Class before being sworn into their newly elected 2013 positions - and write on the blackboard 100 times, "Elections Matter!".

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