Lack of discussion of the most pressing short-term economic policy questions confronting America may have been inevitable, but it is a depressing inevitability. Reviewing some other debates held at the congressional level reveals the same lack of specific policy recommendations to discuss in any constructive way the fiscal cliff. Psychologists might call this a classic case of avoidance behavior. One can draw two conclusions, at least:
- solving America’s fiscal problem remains too painful a subject for campaigners to address seriously;
- hardening of positions on taxes and spending will make real progress on the fiscal front even less likely, not only in the lame duck session after the elections, but in the 113th Congress.
How one squares the fact that some senators are drawing up detailed plans for a large debt reduction package with the general trend of their colleagues in Congress attempting to avoid the issue continues to be a mystery. The next debate moderator needs to ask, “What are your plans to keep America from sliding off the fiscal cliff and into another recession?”
- BPC’s Framework for a Grand Bargain to Avoid the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ October 18, 2012