The Fiscal Cliff, Football and the Big 10 vs. the SEC
Ever since the election, the talk has been focused on the “fiscal cliff.” Depending on your team, the world either looks great and is improving, or the country is headed for a disaster of Biblical proportions. Even our perspectives have become polarized.
My observation is that the country is simply exhausted. It was a long campaign, and despite the political warfare waged very little ground was gained by either side. After four years of crisis, emergencies and daily anxiousness, the country is challenged to handle one more financial panic. Yet, here we are staring down the dark tunnel of another national dilemma.
The premise for conservatives is that we have a debt crisis. The size and scope of government is too large, squeezing out economic freedom. The far left sees it much differently: there is no debt crisis, and only government can bring economic fairness to the American people. When you cannot identify or even agree on the problem that needs to be addressed, should we be surprised that a common sense solution to our national interests could be so elusive?
In recent days, the headlines displayed job creation advancing while the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent. Looking deeper into the headlines and monthly numbers reveals a darker side — the workforce continues to contract, leaving fewer people to pay the bills of the nation.
The traditional conservative approach has always been to move the ball into the “red zone” and score — win the game with brute power of the argument. I see the political left being strategic in their aim for field position, with an expectation of wearing down their opponent to win the game. But, right now, Republican Speaker John Boehner is coaching a traditional Big Ten team while the president is riding high in the SEC with a “speed” offense. No offense meant to my Big Ten brethren, but if you are a football fan you know what I’m saying. To say it another way, the left is playing chess and conservatives are playing checkers.
Without a different mindset and strategy, conservatives will be thwarted in their attempt to score, while the president plays for field position preparing to win. The sad fact is that economic numbers don’t matter in this game of ideology. Winning the game of economic fairness may require much higher deficits and the recognition that economic freedom must have restraints. The Republican Party seems a half a step slow in this fast-moving game of field position and ideology.
In this ultimate game of crafting the future of America, the play in front of us is the fiscal cliff. There is little doubt for conservatives that we need a goal line stand. The president may just settle for a field goal.
I hesitate to use a sports analogy to make a point when analyzing the “fiscal cliff” because life is not a game. Being held in the balance are the hopes and dreams of millions of Americans. For others, the dependency on government has become so acute that threatening to curb the growth of those entitlements tears at the very fabric of their dependency.
Your goal to have either more economic freedom or more economic fairness — depending on which team you support — will require different tactics and strategies to achieve a win. Ultimately, I do not believe the “fiscal cliff” is Armageddon, but its resolution will determine field position in the year ahead.
We won’t know the winner of this political bowl game until well after January 1. Investors should stay focused on the game itself, not being caught up in the pageantry of the event. Each play will matter, and each play will have an unintended consequence.
This game is far from over.
- The Post-Election “Twilight Zone” (thebrennerbrief.com)
- Declining Economic Freedom Means Lower Expected Returns (blogofberk.typepad.com)
- Fiscal Cliff Threatens America’s Economic Freedom (heritage.org)
- Unhappy Republicans Move to Canada? Economics-Wise, Not a Bad Destination. (reason.com)
- World economic freedom: Which countries rank the highest? [infographic] (holykaw.alltop.com)