Lessons from the cliff: The Fiscal Cliff
The headlines are abuzz. The fiscal cliff was averted—or so they say. At the same time, the pundits, the lawmakers, the lobbyists all concede that there is more work to be done. More negotiations will come.
The highlights (if you can call them that) of the cliff aversion include:
• higher tax rates on income earners over $400,000,
• a rise in capital gain rates to 20%,
• itemized deductions will be capped for earners over $250,000,
• estate tax rates will go up to 40% for estates over $5 million, and unemployment benefits will be extended for more than 2 million people.
There is a lot more that could be said about the cliff, and the tentative resolutions that have been reached. But, the great observation from the fiscal cliff is perhaps the saddest one. It’s pretty simple and glaringly obvious; we no longer have a guiding vision for our country, and leaders who agree on an overarching view of what is good for our country.
To the contrary, we have leaders who care in many cases more about their agenda and winning their agenda or at least the opportunity to declare that they’ve won. Even worse, we have a deeply divided debate about what is good for our country, and whose agenda will rule.
You can question the agenda of those in the White House, but equally still the Democrats who control the Senate and the Republicans who control the House. And in all the debating, and in all the squabbling, we have yet to hear a single unifying vision of what is good for our country. So we ask, what is good for our country? What does it mean to be one nation under God? What does it mean to have liberty and justice for all? What does it mean to be indivisible?
A long time ago the answers to those questions seem much easier. It would be naïve to say that we must return to those times, but it would be wise, nonetheless, to look back and learn from the past as we look to the future beyond the cliff.