Dodging the Fiscal Cliff: Parties must cooperate

By Brandon Desiderio
November 24, 2012

When the electoral votes came to a halt last Tuesday and Obama’s reelection was official, something less than patriotic happened.

Disappointed voters rushed to outlets like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to express their outrage at the decision the majority of Americans made.

There was no respect paid to our reelected leader as these individuals tossed aside centuries of national pride in exchange for something more divisive; they allowed their own party affiliation – or lack of affiliation – to widen the gulf between themselves and their “united” country. Regardless of these individuals’ own disdain for or disapproval of the Obama administration that’s boiled over since he took office four years ago, this is a country. Not an arms race.

The problem here, however, is not so much about showing respect. It’s about coming together, united under one flag, and finding the middle ground that’s needed so desperately in order to rehabilitate our nation.

Why have the American people focused so heavily on party politics that they’ve ignored the bigger picture – the common good of all Americans – and passed up the chance to reach a centrist compromise?

Less than fifty days stand between our country and the looming fiscal cliff. Starting January 1, both significant tax hikes as well as budget cuts will take effect and because of this, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the U.S. economy will enter yet another recession.

In order to prevent this from happening, one central, bipartisan step must be taken.

The debt ceiling, which determines the highest amount that our national debt can reach before crucial federal programs have to be cut to rebalance government spending, must be increased. The government must continue spending money in a recession for the economy to improve – this is not about party politics. It’s about buckling down and facing reality.

Without raising the debt ceiling, personal taxes will increase drastically across the board. The lowest income tax for a single adult will rise from 10 percent to 15 percent; the highest individual tax rate will also increase, from 35 percent to approximately 40 percent. For the average American, this means a 3 percent tax hike at the least.

Here at Cabrini, we’ve just wrapped up our spirit week; the theme of the week was diplomacy, detailing the need for this collaboration between both government officials as well as citizens at large.

Such diplomacy must take place within our own borders as our country faces a grim gridlock between the two major parties. Republicans and Democrats must meet each other in the middle to negotiate, and represent Middle America.

If this past election proved anything, it was that the far left and the far right have taken hold of each party’s platform. These radical positions aren’t an accurate representation of most Americans. Most Americans want to see compromise – they want to see cohesion and unity returned to their government.

Unless cooperation is reached in the next 46 days, $1.2 trillion will be automatically cut from the federal budget, from both defense and nondefense areas. This means everything that can’t be cut like Medicare, Medicaid and social security will be cut. Things like education, feeding the hungry, maintaining national parks, our military, etc., will be cut.

This adds up to eight percent of funds cut from each program: eight percent of families won’t receive food stamps; eight percent of veterans won’t be compensated for their sacrifices; eight percent of Americans won’t be able to afford college.

A lot can happen in 46 days. The question is, will Americans urge Congress to take the necessary steps? Will Americans demand their officials to keep their true best interests at heart, and not the divisive party politics they’ve grown accustomed to over the past six months during the campaign season?

46 days. Time will tell.

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Brandon Desiderio

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