The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted this past week that continued inaction on tax and spending policy by Congress “would lead to economic conditions in 2013 that will probably be considered a recession.”
Bush-era tax rates are set to expire next year, raising taxes on millions of Americans. Meanwhile, Congress, in the hopes that a deadline would inspire it to actually cut federal spending thoughtfully, set up a system of blunt and potentially very damaging automatic across-the-board spending cuts that take effect in January.
The cuts would have a devastating effect on our nation’s defenses — though you wouldn’t know it from our Campaigner-in-Chief, who hasn’t lifted a finger to try to stop them.
“He is commander-in-chief,” says Sen. John McCain, “and right now on this issue of the most serious national security consequences, he’s AWOL.”
The combination of tax increases and spending cuts, writes the Associated Press, would mean “in effect sucking roughly $400 billion out of a U.S. economy that is already struggling.”
All this happens unless Congress takes action.
Economic experts say the uncertainty of it all is helping tamp down economic activity now.
Don’t bank on anything getting done before the election, either. While both parties are to blame for the mess we’re in, the president and Democrats in Congress think it’s more important to make a political point than to actually fix what ails the economy. Instead of agreeing to extend current tax rates, Democrats want to look good for their base by fighting for tax increases on upper-income Americans who, it should be noted, already pay the lion’s share of federal taxes.
President Obama himself has, in the past, argued against increasing taxes in a down economy.
As for thoughtful (and urgently needed) spending cuts, Democrats chronically exhibit a Type 1 hypersensitivity reaction anytime they get a whiff of smaller government. And yet they seem willing to blindly take a dull axe to the budget — again, as long as they’re making what they think is a politically popular point.
The truth is, neither party has covered itself in glory in this disgraceful episode.
What we are seeing today must be particularly galling to the remaining veterans of World War II, who gave us the best years of their lives to defeat tyranny on two ends of the globe. That our “leaders” in Washington can’t muster the mere mettle to balance our budget, or even talk with each other in a rational way to avoid what some are calling “Taxmageddon” next year, is an insult to the men and women who once made this the greatest nation on Earth.
Shame on all of those responsible.