We’ve been trying to deal with the national debt in this country for 30 years now. The fiscal cliff is just the latest failed gimmick. We’ve had more failed gimmicks than professional wrestling.
Failed? Yes, because the whole idea of the fiscal cliff was to force the federal government to put in place a long-term reduction of the national debt. And look what happened. Instead of reducing the national debt, the deal passed by Congress late Tuesday night will add $4 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
In the 1980s, we tried the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings law. If the federal budget missed its deficit-reduction targets, the law triggered across-the-board spending cuts (“sequesters”). Guess what? It never happened. Congress exempted 70 percent of the budget from sequestration.
A number of candidates have tried to run for president on a platform of deficit-reduction. They all failed. Starting with Vice President Walter Mondale in 1984: “Ronald Reagan will raise your taxes. So will I. He won’t tell you. I just did.” Goodbye, Walter.
Senator Paul Tsongas promised tough medicine in 1992. He declared that he was “not running to be Santa Claus.” His opponent in the Democratic primaries, Bill Clinton, proved that Santa Claus is a popular fellow.