We’ve talked a lot in this space about the looming fiscal cliff, also known as Taxmageddon. This is the massive combination of tax hikes and defense spending cuts that will happen automatically at the end of this year unless Congress and the president act to stop it.
This includes the expiration of the Bush tax cuts from 2001 and 2003, as well as a huge hike in the estate tax, and a $500 billion spending cut that President Obama has decided to focus on the defense budget. If this happens, it virtually guarantees the U.S. will sink into another recession in 2013, which is not to say that the current “recovery” is anything to write home about.
But since the consequences of the fiscal cliff are plain for everyone to see, I can’t help but notice that Congress has gone home to campaign without first solving the problem.
OK, I know what some of you are going to say. Silly man, that’s not how Washington works. Congress never solves difficult problems in an election year. It hems and haws, drags its feet, then sends its members home to seek re-election before coming back and doing something in December during the so-called “lame duck” session of the outgoing Congress.
Yes. I am familiar with the conventional wisdom, and with the way Washington does things. I recognize that Congress doesn’t want to touch anything controversial when its jobs are on the line — even if the catastrophe is imminent and much work lies ahead before the problem is solved.
But I would like to ask a question about this: Why?
It is the job of our elected representatives to make policies that benefit the nation, and that includes solving problems when necessary. The more serious and time-sensitive the problem, the more urgent it is that they solve the problem and do so effectively.
Maybe some of you get tired of my frequent comparisons to life in the business world, but you shouldn’t.
If any CEO worth his salt realized that his company faced a major financial calamity in mere months, but that time was still available to solve the problem, that CEO would call together the company’s top leaders, develop the best solution to the problem and put it in place immediately. Failure to do so would risk the company’s very survival. There would be no kicking of the can. There would be no foot-dragging. There would be no hand-wringing out of fear that people might get upset by the solution.
You. Just. Solve. The Problem!
In Washington, D.C., not only does Congress not do this, but the entire culture of the town is such that you’d be considered out of your mind if you suggested that they should. Solutions are complicated and often people have to be told no if the solution is going to work. Politicians don’t like to tell anyone no, so they wait as long as they can to solve problems. And if they can find a way to never solve them, so much the better.
You’ve probably noticed that a favorite tactic of Democrats is to bash businesses for laying people off. They make the layoff of any worker out to be an act of unconscionable evil. No one in business ever likes to fire someone, but at times it’s necessary in order to keep the enterprise healthy.
Yet these very politicians, who berate business leaders for the way they solve problems, never solve any problem. They don’t make difficult choices. They don’t say no to a constituency they think they need. They just avoid action for as long as they can.
That’s why, today, with the fiscal cliff looming, the people who should have solved the problem long ago are instead back home asking you for votes. And if you ask anyone in Washington why they don’t solve the problem first, they’ll tell you that’s not how things are done in Washington. First you give them your vote, then they’ll maybe fix the problem.
I have another question: Why do voters go along with this?
Following the conclusion of his presidential campaign, Herman Cain established The Cain Solutions Revolution, an organization whose mission is to educate the public and advocate for the policy solutions that drove his campaign for the presidency. Read more reports from Herman Cain — Click Here Now.
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