The Federal Government’s Game of Cliffhangers

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cliffhanger

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

My very favorite game on the Price is Right is the Cliffhangers game. Anyone who has seen the game show knows how addicting the yodeling song is that is played while the little guy in lederhosen progresses up the mountain. I imagine most viewers root for the little guy, hoping the contestant does not guess too badly, sending him to his doom over the cliff.

The President and Congress are playing their own game of Cliffhangers, but without the entertaining music and with consequences far more dire than a contestant losing a chance at winning a new car, since the little guy in lederhosen in the U.S. economy.

For the remainder of 2012, that amusing little yodeling song should be played on speakers in the White House and in the U.S. Capitol until a compromise is struck.

If you haven’t heard about the “fiscal cliff” that the U.S. government is approaching, here’s the Cliff Notes version.

A bi-partisan “Super committee” was tasked to find a budget deal that both the House and the White House could agree upon over a year ago. When the super committee was given this task, the agreement was that if they couldn’t come to an agreement, automatic cuts and tax increases would occur across the board to balance the budget on January 1, 2013.

These automatic cuts to programs and allowing tax cuts to expire would send the economy into another recession, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. That office has detailed how much everyone’s taxes would go up, including businesses, and that all government programs would see a nearly 10% cut.

While the President and the House both have said they are willing to compromise, both are sticking to their guns on “deal breaker” options. A realistic deal isn’t likely any time soon.

I don’t have any solutions to the budget scenario, but I do openly wonder how bad our budget deficit situation is when suddenly balancing our budget would send the country into a recession. That should be more sobering than the fear of any “fiscal cliff”.

I also wonder the true motivation behind crafting this draconian budget scenario as part of the original super committee plan. Either lawmakers knew that a deal wouldn’t get done, but this situation would be bad enough to push the parties back to the table, or they secretly knew that the United States could handle it, despite the dark predictions.

Politicians are not optimists by nature, so I doubt the latter. However, the former is a fairly realistic scheme. I cannot imagine that the creators of the super committee plan thought that the White House and Congress could agree on a plan during an election year. But now that our long national nightmare that was the election season is past, compromise may be able to be found, even if it takes the threat of a fiscal cliff to make it happen.

It should be interesting to see how Congress and the President negotiate the budget in the next six weeks. There will be arguments and claims that the other party simply won’t budge, but in the end, a deal will be struck. Because in the end, everyone likes the yodeling music and the natural tension of seeing the little guy climb the cliff, getting closer and closer to the edge.

But no one wants to hear that fateful sound that accompanies every loss on Price is Right, especially if it will usher in a recession.

About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.

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