Many sensible and even-handed individuals, including titans of the business world, have called on Congress and the president to finally work together to solve the nation's vast economic woes, primarily featuring our massive and growing $16.4 trillion debt, accompanying trillion dollar plus annual deficits, and unsustainable entitlement programs.
In order to determine whether the parties will listen to the voices of reason, we should examine who we elected to the House and Senate. With few exceptions, we returned to office and placed in office the same people or types of people that serve in the current Congress, those whose unwillingness to compromise has brought us to the brink of economic disaster. The credo of many who have returned or been newly elected to Congress is to be obstinate and to let the country go down the drain rather than give in to those on the opposite side of the aisle.
The primary sticking point between Democrats and Republicans is whether to allow the highest marginal tax rate of 35%, which is imposed on the most prosperous Americans, to revert to 39.6%, the levy which had been in place prior to the George W. Bush tax cuts. There would appear to be grounds for meeting in the middle, with, say, a rate for 2013 and beyond of something between 37 and 38% in exchange for significant entitlement program reform. Is there the will to reach a "grand bargain" for the good of the country or will ideology triumph over reason?
As we are but weeks from the end of the year and the onset of the proverbial "fiscal cliff", the stock market has begun to reflect the unwillingness of our leaders to bend and to lead through a significant post-election decline. I am surprised it did not happen sooner.
It will be instructive to note whether either party is willing to accept responsibility for a 2013 recession and a continued lack of faith in American leadership throughout the world.
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