TribLIVE

| Home

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

A closer look at the 'cliff'

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Letters home ...

Traveling abroad for personal, educational or professional reasons?

Why not share your impressions — and those of residents of foreign countries about the United States — with Trib readers in 150 words?

The world's a big place. Bring it home with Letters Home.

Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or cmcnickle@tribweb.com).

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By John Stossel
Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, 8:56 p.m.
 

Yikes, we're headed toward a fiscal cliff! It will crush the economy! Or so the media and politicians tell us.

The "cliff" is a series of tax increases and budget cuts that automatically go into effect Jan. 1 unless Congress acts.

Will Congress act?

It will! I see the future: The politicians will meet and fret and hold press conferences and predict disaster. Then they'll reach a deal.

It will just postpone the reckoning, but they'll congratulate themselves, and the media will move on.

America, however, continues to go broke.

"They're not going to admit that we're bankrupt, and they won't admit that we're on the verge of a major, major change in our society," says Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas. "So they'll keep putting it aside, but then we'll eventually probably destroy the dollar."

The across-the-board cut, or "sequestration," was designed to be so distasteful that Congress would be moved to cut more deliberately. If it doesn't act, $110 billion in projected spending will be automatically cut - half from domestic spending, half from the Pentagon.

"If they propose, let's say, a $10 billion increase for next year and cut it down to $9 billion, they say they're cutting 10 percent. But they're not cutting anything, they're only increasing it $9 billion instead of $10 billion. It's done on purpose so that people get confused."

Cuts of $110 billion would be good for us because it would keep money in private hands, away from the bloated and freedom-killing bureaucracy.

"When government spending is about $3.8 trillion, you're going to cut $100 billion? That's a deck chair on the Titanic," said Russ Roberts of the Hoover Institution. "If they're actual cuts, I think that would be great. I'd cut 10, 20 percent across the board if I had my druthers. But across the board scares people because they think, ‘Let's save the things that are really important and cut the things that are not so important.' (But) that never works."

It doesn't work because every cent in the budget is absolutely crucial to someone.

Lately the media are focused on the $400 billion in tax increases that make up four-fifths of the fiscal cliff. We're told that if the Bush-era tax cuts expire and the spending reductions kick in, catastrophe will follow.

The other thing that scares Washington are the automatic cuts to Pentagon spending. "These draconian cuts represent a threat to our national security," say Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

"The Pentagon is hysterical about it," notes Ben Friedman of the Cato Institute. "But it's about 10 percent, which would bring us roughly back to where we were in defense spending in 2006 ... adjusted for inflation, not exactly a crisis year in the Pentagon. They've gotten very spoiled at the Pentagon. They had years of luxury."

Automatic cuts might even be good, said Friedman.

"We need probably bigger cuts in the defense budget because we do too much. This will force us to make some choices. We try to be everything in the world ... pretending that every unstable country is a threat to us."

I won't lose sleep over automatic spending cuts. The "fiscal cliff" frightens me less than the bankruptcy cliff.

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed."

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. McCullers’, McLendon’s prowess in clogging trenches crucial to Steelers defense
  2. Rossi: Looking at the next great Steeler
  3. Steelers swap draft pick for Eagles cornerback
  4. Penguins not alone in top-heavy approach to salary cap
  5. After early criticism, Haley has Steelers offense poised to be even better
  6. Reds solve Cole, stave off Pirates’ 9th-inning rally
  7. Pirates notebook: New acquisition Happ more than happy to fill spot in rotation
  8. Starting 9: Examining Pirates’ deadline decisions
  9. Biertempfel: Players, MLB agree logic of season’s setup needs to be examined
  10. Shell shovels millions into proposed Beaver County plant site
  11. Rainy summer delays paving projects in New Kensington