Obama Wins Re-Election—and Faces a Hard, Scary Fiscal Fight
President Obama’s victory last night was due in large part to the American people’s confidence that the country is headed in the right direction economically, coupled with a repudiation of the totally calamitous economic plan of Mitt Romney. But with his victory, the president continues to lead a country battered and scarred by economic crisis. On his desk remain immediate, short term, and longterm economic issues that he must begin to deal with straight away. Left unresolved, the promise of his first four years will remain unfulfilled in the next four.
The most looming issue facing the president is the fiscal cliff.
Last year, as part of the disastrous debt deal he made with the Republican Congress, President Obama agreed to $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts beginning on Jan. 2, 2013. If implemented, these cuts would remove $100 billion from our economy each year over nine years. Fifty percent of the reductions would come from defense and 50 percent from the domestic programs that people of color use to climb the economic ladder, such as Medicaid, education and housing support. Should it take place, the fiscal cliff will be a self-inflicted catastrophe for the economy.
The Bi-Partisan Policy Center says the cuts would roll back economic growth, cost the country 2 millions jobs, and almost surely push the nation back into recession. Without action, a new doomsday for the American economy is only seven weeks away.
The good news is that—with leadership from president and action from the Congress—the fiscal cliff can be avoided. That’s because they never wanted it come to this.
The fiscal cliff was a gun that the president and Congress pointed at their own heads, in order to force themselves to deal with the country’s longterm debt. That debt, accumulated mostly through defense spending and irresponsible tax cuts for the wealthy, has to be resolved in a responsible manner if the U.S. is to prosper as the economy recovers. Both that debt and the fiscal cliff that we now face are products of an absence of leadership in Washington. As the nation’s chief executive, the president has to spearhead the unwinding of the trap that he helped to create. Doing so in a way that preserve’s progressive values will be his charge. However difficult, it’s the only way to avoid a calamity.