Now that the election is over, those of us who try to discern the future via myopic readings of news events—as opposed to via objective analysis of quantitative data, like a jerk—have to find something new to conjecture about. Fortunately, by which I mean to our grave misfortune, there’s that fiscal cliff. If Congress does not reach a deficit-reduction agreement by the end of the month, it will trigger massive automatic cuts to domestic and military spending that coincide with the expiration of temporary tax cuts to wreck our economy. Or Congress can decide that won’t happen, since they’re the ones who put the sequester in place to begin with, but we’re going to pretend that’s not an option. They need to make a deal. What that deal might look like has gotten a little clearer, maybe, depending on how you read this.
As a hip, modern American, I have come to accept a baseline level of mendacity in my political candidates. I’m fully inured to Orewllian doublespeak, for example. When the House passes a bill specifically to prevent tax increases on people making over a million dollars a year and calls it the Buffett Rule Act, I smirk grimly and move on. Every once in a while, though, some elected figure manages to lie in a way that makes me actually angry. Despite my jaded exterior and desire to focus on cat videos, I am occasionally overwhelmed by that rage which comes when a smug person attempts to deceive you by offering to help. Yesterday, Paul Ryan got me. Video after the jump.
This year will be our last Christmas, because the military programs that fund Santa Claus will be automatically cut in January 2013. That’s when the $1.2 trillion sequester of forced reductions in “defense and non-defense spending”—a weird epithet we have all agreed to use—will kick in as a result of the budget super committee’s failure to do dick about anything. Those spending cuts will coincide with the expiration of the Bush tax cuts to create a sort of economic compression pose known as the Fiscal Cliff. Ben Bernanke coined that expression. It’s his big accomplishment from last year. Meanwhile, businesses have delayed hiring and investment until they see what economic conditions will look like in 2013. The Republican and Democratic parties have agreed on two things this year. One, they will not talk about gun control no matter how many insane people shoot however many sane people. Two, going over the Fiscal Cliff would be bad. As we speak, Congress is working on a third agreement: to do nothing about it.