It was hardly a stretch of the imagination to predict, as we did a few weeks ago, that Congress and the White House would put together a last-minute Band-Aid so 2013 would begin with Bush-era income tax cuts intact and spending reductions postponed, thus doing little to address long-term federal deficits.
A bill that passed the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly on Monday somehow mustered enough support in the U.S. House late Tuesday to kick America’s giant mess a little further down the road.
About the only humor to be found in the process was the notion that the titans of government were wrestling mightily atop a “fiscal cliff” to determine the outcome. That metaphor suggests there was a sense of urgency about the negotiations – even though we’ve known for two years now about the so-called crisis at hand.
It was somewhat encouraging to see Democrats and Republicans find room to compromise for a change. But given the ensuing outcry from conservatives such as Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump, one could hardly blame U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for wondering why they had bothered.
Compromises rarely satisfy anyone. That’s the nature of the beast. But at least the agreement lets the vast majority of Americans hold onto the savings put in place by the income tax cuts that passed under former President George W. Bush.
The struggling economy of the past six years has worn us out. The last thing needed by those of us fortunate enough to still have jobs is less money in our paychecks.
The beginning of 2013 was hardly a great dawn to a new era.
But even a small step toward compromise is better than the partisan standoffs that have bogged down the country for much of the past two years.