Posted by patriotslog
To kick off the New Year I was hoping to send a fond farewell to Senator Joe Liebermann, a true statesman in an era of partisan radicals, but with the government choosing to fix nothing with their fiscal cliff deal, a goodbye send off for the retiring CT stalwart seems shallow. But ironically, there is probably no better way to write a tribute to Joe Lieberman than by highlighting the disturbing failures of our government on the fiscal cliff deal. It is really troubling to think that the biggest financial problem our nation has is not our debt or deficit, it is Congress.
President Obama and Congress were unable to make a deal to avert the fiscal cliff; Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell came to a deal that does nothing but kick the can down the road. It raises taxes on families with incomes over $450,000 per year–which we needed–but does nothing to cut spending–which we needed so much more. This failure perfectly illustrates what our nation has become. The era of moderate deal makers, like Sen. Liebermann, is now over; the fiscal cliff failure was the closing ceremony. Olympia Snow, Joe Liebermann, Richard Lugar, and Daniel Inouye were some of the last of a dying breed–the breed that governed.
In 2012 the biggest fear during elections was the primary race. State governments have so thoroughly gerrymandered districts that we have only? 35 “swing districts” left in the entire nation, down from 103 just 20 years ago. The solution to this is simple. Use the California style voting system. If every state voted to institute this system, in which redistricting is not done by a partisan legislature, and the top two vote earners go to the general election, no matter the party, we could get some political sense into Congress. For now, Congress is more worried about getting re-elected than fixing our problems.
Joe Lieberman was not. He left the Democratic Party after losing a primary because he was not extreme enough. For those of you who do not speak French, that means he was not crazy. He was a problem solver, not a party hack. The Democratic Vice Presidential candidate in 2000 and very nearly the Republican Vice Presidential candidate in 2008. I did not always agree with Sen. Liebermann, but in the age of zero compromise, he was always admirably pragmatic. The 112th Congress was not.
What better way for the most unpopular and unproductive Congress in history to give us the finger as they walk out the door than refusing to solve the fiscal cliff? This deal is an embarrassment to Congress, and an embarrassment to the United States. The rest of the world laughs at us. We are proving to our creditors that the only way we can pay our loans is with more debt. With close to 40% of the budget being borrowed and added to our children’s ransom one has to wonder how much longer this can go on. Europe scolds us because we first have to cast the beam out of our own eye.
Worst of all, China, our largest creditor, may not accept this much longer. The Chinese national television–which is essentially a statement from the Chinese Government–warned us this week that it is time to fix this. Congressmen have to stop worrying about re-election, and start fixing problems. Politically unpopular solutions, they say, have to stop being avoided. China said it best; we “simply cannot live on borrowed prosperity forever”. What will it take for Congress to get serious? When will China say enough is enough? If they cut off our line of credit we would dream for tax increases and spending cuts. Instantly we could lose 20% of our federal programs! Going off the fiscal cliff would have been better for us than the deal just reached. We need solutions, and we need them now; instead, Congress and the President insult us and continue to leverage our nation’s stability. We need more legislators like Joe Liebermann.
At least 4 times in the last four years we have had the opportunity to take a big step, first, the Republicans refused to give up revenue, and some great deals were scrapped. Now, after the election victories Democrats refuse to budge on entitlements, and deals continue to be scrapped. When President Obama could have–should have–been working on a compromise to solve the fiscal cliff he was meeting with business leaders, labor groups, bankers, and people who responded to his tweets rather than the Congressional leaders. I guess he missed the memo that his campaign is over, and he won the election.
Unfortunately this political atmosphere silences people brave enough to step outside the politically popular; people like Joe Liebermann. We need more can catchers, not can kickers. Any other person in America would have been fired for missing as many deadlines as Congress. The markets are watching, our lenders are watching, the world is watching, and hopefully we will all be watching too. But if Congress stands by watching much longer we may run out of road.
1 January 2013
Tags: China scolds us, China warns us, compromise, debt ceiling, debt limit, deficit, deficit reduction, federal spending, fiscal cliff, fiscal cliff compromise, fiscal cliff deal, fiscal cliff deal spending cuts, government, joe lieberman retiring, kicking the can, last of a dying breed, politics, senate minority leader, senate minority leader mitch mcconnell, united states debt