Takeaways From the Fiscal Cliff

Posted on January 10, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

By Carl Chancellor

fiscal cliff deal Phew – that was way too close for comfort. But thanks to a nail-biter of a New Year’s deal, we barely averted a package of draconian automatic spending cuts and tax increases that no one wanted to endure.

However, to claim that we avoided going over the so-called “fiscal cliff” would be to overstate the outcome of the more than two months of rancorous partisan wrangling leading up to a last minute, down-to-the-wire agreement that did little to address our fiscal predicament. Instead of avoiding the fiscal cliff, we simply sidestepped and postponed the pending calamity.

So what did we learn from all this political sound and fury?

1. Vice President Joe Biden is good for more than a smile and a sound bite. Biden emerged as a key figure in hammering out a deal with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that spared us the fiscal cliff. According to the Washington Post it was left up to Biden and McConnell, who had forged a strong, long-term relationship while they both served in the Senate, to save the day.  McConnell and Biden resolved the crisis through old-fashioned backroom bargaining…they pared away a little more of the grand ambitions each side had once held so dear, until all that was left was a modest measure that raised some new tax revenue and left most of the deficit problem intact, wrote the Washington Post. Left largely to the sidelines was almost everyone else in Washington.

2. House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) is very much on the sidelines, emerging as the Examiner.com noted – “looking weak and disorganized.” Ouch.  After failing to reach a fiscal cliff agreement with the White House, Boehner announced his own plan to solve the mess – Plan B – that would have extended the Bush tax cuts for those with incomes above $1 million, instead of the $250,000 income limit pushed by the President. But a funny thing happened along the way. Confronted with a revolt among his own GOP members, Boehner pulled his plan, saying: “The House did not take up the tax measure today because it did not have sufficient support from our members to pass.”

And according to The Hill: Boehner’s botched “Plan B” vote and subsequent acceptance of a Senate deal that failed to garner majority support within the Republican Conference have left the Speaker vulnerable. Boehner narrowly held on to his gavel during a vote last week, with 10 Republicans defecting.

3. No one in Washington seems to be listening to the voters as they deman bipartisanship. Despite overwhelming public agreement that taxes should be increased on the wealthy to address the deficit, our elected officials seem oblivious. Perhaps that is one reason the public is “lukewarm” to the fiscal cliff deal and why an ABC/Washington Post poll indicates that “Strong” critics of the deal outnumber its strong proponents by 2-1.

4. Other important issues such as gun control, immigration, and foreign policy are on the political back burner
with budget issues remaining at the center of the congressional stage.

So ultimately, what have we learned from narrowly avoiding the fiscal cliff?

5. Clearly, the biggest take away from this ordeal is that apparently our elected officials in Congress and the White House haven’t learned a darn thing. Judging from the talk coming from the Hill and the White House, these folks are determined to take us all on this political rollercoaster again in just a few weeks. As NBC news recently noted – Next up: Congress will have to decide what to do about the “sequester” spending cuts which will come up again in February, as well as decide in March on whether to increase the federal borrowing limit.

Turner GPA is a leading D.C.-based national lobbying and government affairs firm dedicated to delivering cutting edge policy advocacy for the manufacturing, defense, aerospace, health and energy industries. Members of our professional policy team can be reached at (202) 466-2511. We are also on the Web at www.turnergpa.com.

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[…] so the 112th Congress adjourned to the history books with an 11th hour vote to avoid the fiscal cliff, the overused term for a series of tax hikes and budget cuts that would have sent the economy […]

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