Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Fiscal Crisis: Can Kicks Are All We Can Expect

Tonight (Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013), Congress has temporarily "fixed" the fiscal and debt crises by re-opening the government until Jan. 15, 2014, and raising the debt ceiling until Feb. 7, 2014.  In other words, the government will resume operations and not default on its debt until early next year, when we return to crisis mode again.

Can kicking is all we can expect.  The government that the voters elected in 2012 isn't capable of decisive action on divisive issues like government spending.  With the House held hostage by a small but very loud group of Tea Partiers, and the rest of government controlled by the Democrats, dysfunction is baked into the cake the voters made last year.  Maintaining the status quo--a/k/a can kicking--is the only thing a sharply divided government can do.

Early next year, when Congress and the White House revisit the fiscal and debt crises, they will again kick the can through the end of the 2014 fiscal year (which ends Sept. 30, 2014)--because they won't be able to do anything else.  Maybe they'll make minor tweaks, but nothing big will happen.  Come late September or early October 2014, with the 2014 Congressional elections imminent, they will kick the can again past the election date, perhaps into early 2015 for the next Congress to deal with.

To end can kicking, voters need to elect a functional government next fall.  Yes, the idiots in Washington are to blame for behaving like children.  But the electorate put them in office.  Democracies function by compromising.  If narrow-minded, uncompromising fanatics are elected, expect the can to be well-kicked for years to come. 

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