We released the “Kick the Can” video at the top of the page (viewable on Youtube, as well) in early August, before Congress took off on a long summer recess. Our argument then was that with a massive federal debt and the coming “fiscal cliff” of tax hikes and spending cuts in January, Congress can’t afford to continue to delay tackling our serious fiscal problems.
More than a month later, how much has changed? Nothing. Worse yet, members of Congress are already preparing the field for further delays of needed action. Politico reports:
For all the hype surrounding the dreaded fiscal cliff on taxes and spending, an increasing number of lawmakers are starting to push for Congress to do what it does best when faced with a difficult decision: punt.
If Mitt Romney wins the presidency, Republicans in Congress will block any action until he’s sworn into office. If Republicans win the Senate, they’ll stall any effort to solve the massive tax increase and spending cuts until they hold the gavels. And if it’s a status quo election — President Barack Obama wins and Congress remains divided — negotiations may begin in earnest right after Nov. 6, but it will be hard to make a landmark deal before Dec. 31 given the resistance from House Republicans to any tax increases and Democratic unwillingness to overhaul entitlements.
All these scenarios are being actively discussed by congressional leaders as they return to what is likely going to be a brief, unproductive September session after a long August recess.
Members of the legislative branch are already talking about how they might put off taking substantive action until 2013. Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee suggests passing a six-month extension of the status quo on taxes and spending to provide Congress time to act with care.
That sounds reasonable, but the fact is, Congress and the president have already been holding the line on the status quo for years. Maybe that’s why our national debt is a staggering $16 trillion, budget forecasters see deficits far into the future and the unemployment rate is stuck at over 8 percent.
How much longer can we afford to maintain that kind of status quo? It’s past time for real, substantive spending reform that sets out nation on a path to economic growth.
Pete Hegseth is the CEO of Concerned Veterans for America, and the former executive director of Vets for Freedom. Pete is an infantry officer in the Army National Guard, and has served tours in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay.