The Cliffhanger

Like most, I have a fear of falling. Perhaps this fear is the result of my five-year-old endeavors to base jump from a tree house, but today my concern is for the one plunge merely hours away: the fiscal cliff.

The looming deadline has provided about as much media entertainment as taxation and fiscal policy usually affords, which amounts to the same kind of entertainment an individual gets by watching people shred tax dollars—his tax dollars. In the past few days, President Obama has sworn to a Grand Bargain, Senators Reid and McConnell have practically sworn at each other, and Speaker Boehner has achieved the heights of irony by aborting a Republican plan named after a contraceptive. Now we’re told that Senator McConnell has chosen Joe Biden to be his “dancing partner” for a new mini-deal, and that, according to a statement by the President, “it appears an agreement” is in sight. In the meantime, says Reid, House Republicans are poised to “hang loose” until a deal is presented. That’s because he wants them to be the first to drop when the country goes over.

My trepidation about the cliff remains because, as a college student, I am completely aware of humanity’s infinite capacity to procrastinate. The announcement of a solution, which will likely raise the tax burden on individuals making more than $400,000 and families making more than $450,000, has emerged only after weeks of deadlock and indecision. Although a thorough policy has the potential to save each taxpaying household from having to fork over an additional $3,446 a year, the hastiness of Congress and the President to accomplish something will likely implement only a temporary measure. I liken this predicted result to 2011’s negotiations about the debt ceiling, which, by the way, needs to be increased again.

Don’t get me wrong: like many Americans, I fervently hope for the establishment of a better directive that can dig us out of the Marianas Trench-sized hole we’ve made for ourselves. I believe that our system is fundamentally secure, and as long as Washington takes the right steps to realize the goals of financial responsibility we won’t have to swan dive into pools of our own liabilities. But even as I wish for the best possible outcome, I recall the old adage “politics is the art of postponing decisions until they are no longer relevant.” Unfortunately, no amount of postponement will make the fiscal cliff any less relevant.

Let’s wish for the very best come tomorrow. Until then, I’ll be readying my parachute.

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