Monday, November 12, 2012

Fiscal Cliff Part II: Here's the Olive Branch, I think

It appears that we are back to the drawing board. What was perceived to be conciliatory overtures between Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) and President Obama after the final election results were announced have once again become a political stand off.

That's not to say that both parties are not looking to reconcile. Only that our elected leaders seem to want to compromise but at each other's expense. So, where do we go from here?

President Obama has asked the House to extend the tax cuts an additional year, but only to middle class families. Rep. Boehner, along with the rest of his cohorts, are demanding that tax cuts include the wealthy. Additionally, conservatives would like to see the deficit addressed and government spending capped.

Is there a resolution in the near future? There are less than two months left to the year, at which point tax rates are expected to rise and program budgets will be slashed if our leaders don't get their act together.

There are some points to consider before any deal can be reached. First, while there is plenty of  fear sounding off by doomsday predictors of a potential economic catastrophe in the upcoming year - that is, if this issue is not addressed - I'm reading it's a lot of needless hype. In fact, any resulting consequences are predicted to be short-term.

Second, we need to factor in fairness when considering sound policy. Is extending tax cuts to a certain income level the sensible thing to do? Why not allow the rich to enjoy the benefits of tax cuts? On the flip side, Republicans need to seriously consider their proposals as well. Will the policies they present benefit the nation and the economy in the long run or are they merely being offered to win political points?

Third, any implemented policies should be considered for the long haul, and not to be used as a badge of honor demonstrating the superiority of one party's influence over the other. We've seen this happen in the past, where laws passed during one party's dominance are challenged when the opposing party is in the majority. We need real policies that will give the economy a short-term boost and encourage long-term growth.

The good news is, our politicians appear sincere about compromising. But it won't happen unless  real effort at negotiation is implemented. Not a quid pro quo type of process, where one party gives in to the other's demands only if its demands are also met.

What is needed is an objective look at the issues facing the nation and a solution that will overlook political, religious,socioeconomic and racial divides. Solutions that will help Americans - not only conservatives, liberals, independents, the rich, or the poor - overcome a challenging period in our history.

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