EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

January 6, 2013

Column: Fiscal problems remain just as daunting

How about those U.S. Congresspersons? They didn’t quite keep us from falling off the fiscal cliff, but they caught us before we hit bottom, right? And how about President Barack Obama, who routed the Republicans, getting more than enough of them to violate their pledge not to raise taxes?

Happy days are here again. The rich are finally going to pay something like their fair share, although anything that leaves them with a penny more than I have still isn’t really fair – at least that’s the impression I get from my benevolent president.

Obama stood in the breach and protected us from Republicans getting their grubby government hands on our divine right to endless unemployment benefits and any reduction in our divine right to endless increases in Social Security and Medicare.

Celebrate! Celebrate! Dance to the music!

Except, uh, might not be too wise to raise a glass of bubbly just yet. There are still these troubling little realities we have to deal with sometime – not now, of course – now is never a good time to talk about taking responsibility for anything. But sometime not too long from now, if we want to avoid some all-out generational warfare, we are going to have to talk about them.

First, allegedly averting the “fiscal cliff” solves nothing. The whole thing was really just a lot of self-generated political theater by the president, Congress and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who is credited with coining the term. There was no cliff, unless you think returning to the tax rates that existed under President Clinton – which Democrats insist was practically a utopian decade – would be a national calamity.

The problem is not a cliff. It is a growing avalanche of debt. It doesn’t wipe anybody out at the start, but when it gains a critical mass and a head of steam, it can be lethal, to individuals, families and yes, societies.

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