Short-Term Pain, Long-Term Gain?
Posted on November 14, 2012
Airplane! is one of my favorite movies.
It has a lot of great scenes, but one of my favorites profiled James J. Kirkpatrick and Shana Alexander arguing, like they always did on Sixty Minutes, about the fate of the airplane in question. Kirkpatrick’s line was precious: “I say let ‘em crash.”
I am mighty tempted to say the same thing about the so-called fiscal cliff.
I don’t like the name "fiscal cliff", because it doesn’t really tell me about what is going to happen to the economy. I prefer automatic tax increases and automatic spending cuts. That tells me a lot more about what is going to happen if Congress and the President doesn’t get their collective acts together.
So what if taxes go up to where they were back in the Clinton years?
It wasn’t as if the Clinton years were that terrible economically. We can survive a few months or a few years with higher taxes for everybody. And guess what? It might actually help with our terrible deficit numbers.
The spending cuts are equally modest. Doesn’t everybody agree that we need to cut spending on health care and the military? Aren’t we transitioning out of two wars and wouldn’t that mean that we need to spend less money on defense?
Sure, there might be some short term economic pain, but let’s face it, if we go over the so-called fiscal cliff, it will be the President’s fault. He’s the guy who doesn’t want to get a deal. He’s the guy who wants to raise taxes. He ‘s the guy who wants to cut defense spending. He’s the leader and his party will face the music in two years, when many more Democrats are up in the Senate than Republicans.
And what if all of this short-term pain leads to long-term gain?
What if the hue and cry of real tax increases compel both sides to real entitlement reform and real tax reform? Wouldn’t that be better for the long-term economic health of the country?
The President has made clear that he wants to dance on the faces of the vanquished GOP. But John Boehner and his colleagues don’t have to play that game. They can just as easily gleefully jump over the fiscal cliff and let the chips fall where they may.
There might be some short-term pain, but there also might be some long-term gain for both the country and GOP.