Magic coins, fiscal cliffs and sequestration drama dominate 2013
by ALLISON CRYER
So far this year, much of the news coming from the White House sounds like the plot of the latest blockbuster movie with topics like magic coins, fiscal cliffs and now the sequestration drama dominating the headlines – and it’s only March 1.
If the financial situation in the U.S. this year were made into a movie, I think the plot would go something like this:
“America: an epic chronicle of a nation that still believes in the imaginary – especially when it comes to money. Making her first appearance on the ‘platinum’ screen, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi plays a passionate portrayal of a woman bent on saving the world with one magic coin that, if minted, would bring the country out of debt for good and put an end to all suffering here on Earth.”
That is, if she doesn’t fall off the fiscal cliff or get “sequestered” by aliens first.
Americans have had to face one fiscal crisis after another lately, and if squabbling in Congress continues, our financial future is not going to go any smoother. Each crisis keeps getting worse than the last. I wonder what the next misleading metaphor will be. Maybe it should be “bratty Congressman” or “not rocket science” when referring to budget negotiations.
The fiscal cliff fiasco had nothing to do with an actual hill, but politicians on Capitol Hill use terms like these to give their constituencies the false impression that something has to be done or they will all die or drive off a cliff to fall to their deaths. It’s yet another scare-tactic used to instill fear in the American people in order to fuel partisan agendas.
The fact is, because those making budget decisions are elected, their agenda will always be to get re-elected, not to further progress in our nation. Therefore, the drama over the debt ceiling and government spending will likely never end in the U.S.
The magic coin idea really exemplifies the financial situation in the U.S. Believing in putting off debt for future generations is how we got where we are today. Although the idea never got any legs, just the fact that the idea was brought up to mint a $1 trillion platinum coin to magically wipe away the nation’s debt is an indication of how ridiculous and fantastical the thinking is on Capitol Hill today.
There is no magic coin or quick fix that will save us from our gloomy financial future and it is high time both Republicans and Democrats in Congress start working together to enact realistic legislation not aimed at weakening the opposing party.
Now the sequestration drama is the hot topic in the media. This is yet another example of politicians playing games with our nation’s livelihood. The drama began when Congress enacted a new fiscal policy procedure originally provided for in the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Deficit Reduction Act of 1985. The measure was an effort to reform Congressional voting procedures so as to make the size of the Federal government’s budget deficit a matter of conscious choice, rather than simply the arithmetical outcome of a decentralized appropriations process in which no one ever looked at the cumulative results until it was too late to change them.
But what ended up happening is Congress voted to kick the can down the road several times to avoid making a decision that might not get them re-elected. Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress voted to raise the Budget Resolution spending caps upward toward the end of the legislative session in order to match the actual totals already appropriated, thus largely wiping out the incentives that the reformed budget procedures were expected to provide for Congress to get better control of the budget deficit.
Why do we need automatic spending cuts in place when we have Congressmen who are paid to do just that? If you want the president to approve more spending cuts, then come up with a plan like all 50 states do each year to manage costs and cut spending the right way. Yes, I believe there is wasteful spending going on, but the across-the-board cuts to programs that help our veterans, elderly and children with mental health issues is unfair to American taxpayers who will be forced to make up the difference.
Balancing the budget should not be one dramatic crisis after another. Unlike in the movies, the key players are making real life decisions that will affect the future of generations to come. Congress needs to stop playing games and do what is right for the American public.
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