For all of the hubbub surrounding the drama, last-minute chaos and panic over the fiscal cliff, I have to admit that I am somewhat underwhelmed by what we all seem to have gotten out of the deal. The politicians stayed up late over the holidays, burning the midnight oil to reach an agreement, and we managed to get only two or three months before the dramatic pronouncements and debating start up all over again with the debt ceiling!
As I see it, there is way too much self-congratulating going on, considering that Congress simply ducked the key issues and passed on many of the hard decisions to the next round. Now we are facing the latest iteration of the debt ceiling debate, and, despite the fact that, as I am writing this the Republican caucus in the House is reported to be looking to pass a debt ceiling compromise, even that is supposed to be little more than just another three-month delay.
This constant cycle of “cliffs” and deadlines is ultimately going to have a corrosive impact on the national economy (if it hasn’t already), and, perhaps more importantly, it is continuing to reinforce a pattern of kicking the can down the road with regard to settling some of the core economic issues facing this country. Additional debates over much-needed spending cuts are also in store for this year, and it seems unlikely that any kind of long-term solution will be reached. For a few more detailed thoughts and insights on what I think all of this might mean (for both the short-term and the long-term financial well-being of the country), you can download a recent episode of my weekly radio show.