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Avoiding the cliff

Published November 9, 2012 1:01 am

Time for our leaders to really lead
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The campaigns are over. The president has been re-elected. The people who lead the House and the Senate are the same people who were there before.

Dare we hope that these worthies, having seen that the other side is not going away, will now set about doing what they were elected to do? Which is to govern.

The first order of business, something that must be resolved even before the new Congress assembles or President Obama is sworn in again, is to avoid The Fiscal Cliff.

That is the label, coined by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, for what is set to be a barrage of automatic tax increases and huge spending cuts that will kick in as a result of the previous actions by the president and Congress to kick decisions about federal budget woes down the road.

Just about everyone agrees that such an event would be catastrophic to the economy, sucking out so much money as to cause at least another recession, if not a full depression.

Obama wants to do just what he told the American electorate he wanted to do. To keep money flowing through the economy, he wants to maintain tax cuts for households making less than $250,000 a year. To bring some much-needed cash into federal accounts, he does want them to expire for those making more than that.

The Republican line is still that none of the tax cuts should expire — especially those that benefit the wealthy, which Republicans wrongly refer to as "job creators."

Jobs are not created by people with scads of cash socked away. They are created by people with just enough money to buy a few things — from cars to cell phones, from underwear to ball caps — who will buy more if the middle-class and payroll tax cuts stay in place.

In the House, where Republicans maintain their majority, Speaker John Boehner has indicated some flexibility. In the Senate, where Minority Leader Mitch McConnell never had any stated goal other than to make Obama a one-term president, not so much.

Republicans are right to insist that Obama's re-election is not the only thing that matters. But Republicans are wrong to pretend that Obama's re-election does not matter at all.

The fact that Obama was able to win in the face of a painfully slow recovery and unemployment rates that would be the end of many administrations means that the traditional Republican trickle-down approach has been rejected by the voters, even more than Obama has been retained.

Republicans, including those from Utah, must show a willingness to work with the president, not at cross-purposes with him, to solve this problem.




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