Political Prowess Commentary: President must address fiscal cliff
Now that the election is over, President Barack Obama’s first act should be to address the “fiscal cliff” in a way that addresses the issue of the national deficit, but does not stagnate our economy.
The “fiscal cliff,” a term that will likely dominate airwaves over the next few weeks, is a set of laws that will go into effect at the end of this year when the Budget Control Act of 2011 will take effect.
Among the laws that will change at midnight Dec. 31 are the end of last year’s temporary payroll tax cuts (resulting in a two percent increase for workers), the end of certain tax breaks for businesses, the end of the tax cuts from 2001-2003 and the beginning of taxes related to the Affordable Health Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
At the same time, the spending cuts part of the debt ceiling agreement of 2011 will go into effect.
Politicians, especially Obama, should look to address this fiscal cliff, which could potentially cause another recession.
During his concession speech last Tuesday, Obama’s challenger in the election Mitt Romney called on Washington to develop a solution.
“We can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing,” he said. “And we look to Democrats and Republicans in government at all levels to put the people before the politics.”
Obama echoed Romney’s thoughts during his acceptance speech, when he said that Congress must start working together on this issue.
“Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours,” he said.
If both men truly believe what they say, they should work together on addressing this fiscal cliff. Obama should talk to Romney and ask him to present a proposal along with other Republican leaders, and Romney should accept the offer.
Although Romney is probably upset after his defeat, he should still flex his political muscles and help the country, like he has previously shown in Massachusetts.
Not only should Obama look to his former opponent to help out, but he should also seek advice from the last President to preside over a booming economy and a balanced budget. That’s right, Bill Clinton.
During the Democratic Convention earlier this year, Clinton said the secret to his economic success was “arithmetic.”
It would be wise for Obama to bring in Clinton to help create a plan that creates jobs and doesn’t stifle the economy.
If all three men can actually work together, they could come up with a plan that includes reform to welfare and social security, which Romney would be more than happy to work on, and revenue generation, which Clinton can work on.
U.S. business leaders should also step up to the plate, as they have sat on the sidelines the past several years, waiting for Congress to develop a plan.
These leaders need to stop their post-election rhetoric, as they threw their support behind Romney during the election, and make their voices heard to the government about what they think would work best for the economy.
Take, for example, the Fix the Debt initiative, signed by 80 chief executives, including the heads of UPS, Aetna and Invesco. The initiative called for a balanced budget and encouraged political leaders to focus on the urgent issues in the economy.
It’s also important for small businesses to make their voices heard as well, as they will be the job creators who can get the economy back on track.
Business leaders of all sides should look to plans like Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to not contribute one cent of political contributions to either party until they make a serious plan to fix the debt problem.
During his speech Tuesday night, Obama pledged to reach out to Romney in the weeks ahead. That time is now. It takes one phone call to ask Romney to set aside the rhetoric post-election, and in exchange, Obama should pledge his support to entitlement reform.
Romney should show the American people that he can carry over his ideas as Governor to national politics and create a revenue-generating plan that could be helpful to preventing this fiscal cliff, although it could upset his fellow Republicans.
Not to mention the fact that no one understands the problems facing Obama better than Clinton, who balanced the budget once and could do it again.
These times demand new ideas, and neither Obama nor Clinton nor Romney will ever face the voters again, so they can afford to make radical decisions that may upset some of their constituents. It’s time to stop the partisanship for the good of the U.S. economy.