Matt MIller wonders if we haven’t entered a period in which we have a stable political equilibrium that will induce a continuing series of “fiscal cliffs”:
Here’s the scenario. Recall that all this started in the summer of 2011, when gridlock in the debt talks and the later breakdown of the supercommittee led to creation of the cliff we now face. It seems almost certain that any new deal that is struck, either before January 1 or some time afterwards, will involve some minor near-term “action” or “down payment” combined with the creation of a new fiscal cliff of unpleasant consequences to be triggered sometime in 2013 if a broader deal on tax and entitlement reform is not reached.
This, because a divided Washington needs “a forcing device” to instigate action.
But what will have changed later in 2013 to produce a different outcome? Arguably nothing. And so we have the prospect of another deal with illusory progress later in 2013, along with the creation of the next forcing device. Which eventually forces the next sham deal and the creation of the next forcing device.
And so on. Endless forcing devices that force the creation of new forcing devices. Cliffs that bequeath future cliffs.
His solution: one party rule. That would be hunky dory if either party were proposing measures that would pull us back from the brink in some sort of sustainable way but they aren’t. Does anybody really believe that raising the marginal tax rates on the highest income earners to 99%, cutting defense spending to, say, Germany’s level, and subsidizing “green energy” companies and industrial unions will restore robust growth to the economy? How about cutting personal income tax rates, increasing defense spending, abolishing Social Security, and turning Medicare into a voucher program?
The whole would be greater than the sum of two sane, temperate parts. The sum of two radicalized parts, more interested in sticking it to their political opponents than resolving the country’s problems, is bupkis.