Will We Need Fiscal Cliff First Responders?

Firefighters Pulling Fire Hose from Fire TruckWith a deadline looming, the architecture of a not so grand bargain has been floated amongst the different warring parties responsible for avoiding the fiscal cliff. Make no mistake, this is high drama. Not even Hollywood could direct this disaster script. The real question remains — who will be the hero that save the day?

President Obama has become the spinning top, skidding across the deck of a balanced approach while House Speaker John Boehner reluctantly plays out the poor hand he is holding. Either character could be the hero of this made for TV movie, but alas it seems the calendar will steal the show.

I mean no disrespect to our president or speaker, but it’s becoming too difficult to take this process seriously. We are staring down the barrel of a $16 trillion debt, as much as $100 trillion of unfunded liabilities and a government budget growing at an unsustainable pace. Should we really believe that haggling over $20 billion a year in tax revenue with no entitlement reform is serious?

We know the answer to that question, but do we know if the American people are ready to accept responsibility and embrace some form of austerity? Many would say “of course,  we’re ready,” but this past election has told a very different tale. Who will pay the price for accepting austerity to preserve the social safety net on which so many people are now dependent?

The men and women of our armed services have sacrificed for this country. First responders have, as well. Many have given the greatest sacrifice, but who will be the first responders to a fiscal tragedy being laid at the feet of our children and grandchildren?

We seem to be captivated by the thought of gun control in the wake of yet another shooting. It seems to me, however, that a healthy democracy pursues public policy not based on how we feel at the moment, but rather how that policy protects our constitutional rights and strengthens the national fabric of freedom.

We may not be able to get the long view with an attention deficit prone public, but leadership-strong leadership will always take the long view when dealing with their most basic values.

Without a real national dialogue on austerity, our feelings on the fiscal cliff, gun control, public education and even birth control, all become a moot point. Perhaps early on, austerity can be less painful, merely constraining; but make no mistake, the longer we wait, it becomes likely those constraints become painful.

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