I’ve been over a Cliff. It wasn’t fun. We’re nearing another. Do we go over?

When I was very young, around 5 or 6 years old, my brother and I were left alone in a 1980 Chevette at the top of a driveway. The driveway faced away from an unprotected cliff; one could walk right up to the edge and see down every inch of the 75 foot drop to the parking lot below.

My brother, wanting to play race car driver (in a Chevette? Really?), jumped into the driver’s seat, while I sat in the hatch back, one of my favorite places to sit while being driven around. It was quite a different time than we’re in now.

My brother had managed to knock the car out of gear, and we started rolling backward toward the cliff. I was the first to realize what was going on, but unfortunately I was also privy to front row seating to what may very well have been the end of the world for my brother and I.

So, it turns out, our worlds didn’t end. My brother and I survived what looked like almost certain death with very little injury at all. I’ve some scars, my brother’s one scar healed and disappeared over the years, and neither one of us remembers the event.

Now I hear there’s another cliff approaching, and it makes me wonder if we’re in all that much trouble, seeing as how I’ve been over one before. Having experienced danger and survived nearly unscathed often makes one braver in the face of the same danger, but also more wary. There’s a lot of talk of a cliff in the news these days, and I, for one, am very wary of what’s coming.

The United States, in its rise through its Industrial Revolution, two World Wars and several other scarring events, including the indelible marks of terror in Oklahoma City and on 9-11, has weathered every one of these events with courage and resolute dignity. It may be that we’re unable to see the danger associated with our present condition due to our ability to withstand our past tragedies, but, based on what I’m reading and hearing from those who take our Nation’s fiscal condition very seriously, we will not be able to weather this “Fiscal Cliff” and continue to be the United States we’ve known.

There are two directions being discussed to address our Nation’s fiscal condition, but neither one of them actually addresses the problem. As a doctor will treat the cause of the symptoms instead of simply medicating away the symptoms, so must Congress and the President address the cause of our fiscal destruction instead of simply salving the symptoms. Our Nation can ill afford to continue failing to meet its obligations in a way that doesn’t expose our citizens to the irresponsibility of passed Congressional malfeasance.

We’ve spent our way into a sealed tomb. While the “Full Faith and Credit of the United States Government” still means something, we need to cauterize the wound that bleeds our Nation out, address how to pay for our previous largess, and bind our Nation’s financial future to a balanced budget that will only allow for borrowing in times of dire need, instead of using borrowing to fund the majority of our Federal Government’s activities, many of which are not legitimate in terms of our spending is concerned.

Until we do something about our Government’s insatiable appetite for our money, present and future, borrowed and otherwise, there will be no way to back away from the “Fiscal Cliff”. There will be no way to build a bridge far enough to get us over the chasm, and there will be no way to keep us from seeing the suicide of the greatest experiment in self governance humanity has ever known. Our founders knew this day would come, and they told us as such during the Nation’s founding. Why have we failed to heed their warnings?

A better question… How much longer will we be allowed to ignore their warnings before things are so far gone we’re not able to recover?

Budget Negotiation 101: Avoiding The Fire

Many in the media are proclaiming President Obama’s ‘nonoffer’ offer for a solution to the erstwhile fiscal cliff as ‘brilliant‘ and ‘courageous‘.

No, I am not kidding… read the New York Times or Washington Post.

The left seems to believe they have Republicans where they want them.  And actually, they may be right.  Republicans took a drubbing in the elections, and polls show the public will blame them, and not Democrats, if the fiscal cliff occurs.  And moreover, they don’t think that Republicans have any counter offer that will matter.

So, in answer, I present to you the Bowles-Simpson commission of 2010.

Look, the above commission is not ideal; far from it.  It raises taxes far more than I like and cuts some programs like Medicare far less than I would.

But the reality is we are in a deep dilemma as a party.

We have two choices:  one, walk away from the talks, let the fiscal cliff occur, and take the blame.  In which case we either get lucky and the public forgets their anger at the GOP by the time the 2014 elections roll around (unlikely), or we get crushed and Obama has two years where he is a lame duck but has control of all segments of Washington, D.C. A frightening thought.

The second choice is to present something that may pass that may solve at least a few of our problems.  For all the problems with Bowles-Simpson, it would start to put the country on a track to some fiscal sanity.  It restrains entitlements significantly enough that we have the prospect of avoiding a debt crisis, and forces long term changes to programs that have so far been untouched.

One side benefit:  Liberals hate it.

Sure, it raises taxes.  Tremendously.  But we better start to realize that is coming anyway.  If we walk away from the talks, the Bush tax cuts expire, in which case we actually get a scenario where we raise taxes more than the Commission ever would have.

Of course, the right wing of the party would have to get behind this, which is unlikely but possible.  We should unite as a party, and say we will vote for this solution, lock, stock and barrel.  No one in the media can state this isn’t a serious proposal, after two years of anointing Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson as the ‘Guardians of deficit sanity’.  Furthermore, it would show Obama for what he really is:  a paper tiger, and nothing more.  Obama is as unserious about deficit control as any man on the planet, and putting this up would show his true colors.

Sure, passing Bowles-Simpson would hurt.  The economy might take a hit from the tax increases alone.  But the GOP is a party with few open paths before it.  And among the very bad choices we have at hand, this may, at the very least, be a viable path forward.

Cross posted from Neoavatara.