Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Fiscal Cliff

Over the past few days, I keep stumbling over the term "fiscal cliff" as I read through the business and political news.  It's surfacing everywhere, and it's primarily used to describe two related events.

First, there's the automatic repeal of the Bush-era tax cuts.  Second, barring any meaningful movement on deficit reduction, there will be major, mandatory, and significant reductions in government spending, up to and notably including military spending.

In the business media and in the general press, this is being cited as a reason to ring alarm bells.

We're approaching the cliff!  If we go off the cliff, we'll destroy our economy!  Something must be done!   Turn!  Hit the brakes!  Turn!  Go back!   Concerned defense industry folk and contractors and the financiers who sell and hold US debt are beginning to freak out a little bit.

And yet we're not turning.

Nothing is being done, because the divided Congress elected by divided America is inexplicably divided.

Here, I confess to find myself confused.  Sure, we're approaching what looks like a cliff.

But to my eyes, we're not approaching it from the top.  We're approaching it from the bottom.  It's the side of the deficit hole we've dug ourselves into, that deep pit of false and unsustainable growth.

The "cliff" is nothing more and nothing less than what we need to do to get out of debt as a nation, or at least reduce debt to manageable levels.

We'd not be going over the cliff.  We'd be starting to climb up it.

That's probably why the financial and political classes seem so alarmed.