The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

January 3, 2013

Our View: Delayed decisions


The Joplin Globe

— Some politicians are claiming a victory by passing legislation that averted the “fiscal cliff.” However, the country loses by continuing the march toward yet another looming deadline. The last-minute “deal” only delayed the tough decisions about spending cuts, and it does nothing to address the looming partisan showdown on the debt ceiling, which must rise soon to avoid default on U.S. loans.

In fiscal year 2012, the federal deficit was $1.1 trillion, down from $1.3 trillion in 2011. Some, if not most of that drop in deficit spending resulted from spending cuts enacted in August 2011. But never fear, without further spending cuts that deficit figure will increase simply because of inflationary pressures.

Following congressional actions on Jan. 1, about $60 billion annually in new federal revenues will be gained by raising taxes on wealthy Americans. A return to former levels of Social Security taxation will increase revenues to that program by about $125 billion annually.

But those revenue increases will do little or nothing to reduce the $1 trillion federal deficit. Congressional consideration for more spending cuts has been further delayed until “later” — like two months from now.

Efforts on the part of the federal government for two years have been espoused to rein in the increases in federal debt and get control of federal spending. President Barack Obama has said we must do so in a balanced approach. On Jan. 1, Congress passed legislation that raises taxes $41 for every $1 cut in spending.

Forget the rhetoric from the White House. The reality so far in the past year is huge disparity between taxation and spending changes.

Members of Congress must deal with the issue or go home and stay there. Repeating last-minute rescues only compounds the nation’s budget woes.