Monday, December 31, 2012

Fiscal Toboggan Ride Assured

The news from tonight's WSJ web site is that a deal has been struck to avoid the "fiscal cliff."  As previously predicted, it changes little in the grand scheme of things, other than my debt clock at right will continue to move in the upwards direction for a decade or more.  Here is the analysis of the results.

The deal doesn't do much to control the U.S.'s long-term budget woes, which are driven largely by entitlement spending, especially on health care, which were left untouched in this agreement. And depending on the budget math and the ultimate fate of the spending cuts, it may not do much for the short-run deficit either. 
By waiting until the last minute, and reaching a deal on a much smaller scale than either side once envisioned, Washington also deferred many of its thorniest questions for perhaps as little as a few weeks. In late February of early March, the Treasury Department will run out of extraordinary measures to deal with the government's borrowing limit—which it reached on Monday—and Congress would need to approve an increase.
Welcome to government by crisis, lurching from one deadline to the next with no plan to solve the long term issues and not even a budget against which to measure progress.  By ensuring a series of legislative crises, the Congress and the President are guaranteeing that a real crisis will develop.  With public and private debt levels high and inflation heating up, there are no reserves to deal with fresh economic pressures.  I went grocery shopping for New Year's supplies, buying things I haven't bought in a while, and I was shocked at how much prices have risen on some items.  I don't care what the official numbers say, my experience is telling me that they are understating inflation right now.

Next crisis, the debt ceiling increase.

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