Since last Tuesday’s election, as they sort out its results and causes, the pundits have noted that America’s foreign policies and developments elsewhere in the world weighed very lightly on the American electorate as it went to the polls. Nothing new there. Domestic considerations have normally far outshined international issues in our elections. In 2012, however, the most critical concern to most Americans -- while advertised as domestic -- is truly a world-wide issue.
The economy of America is so inextricably intertwined with scores of other economies that anyone not recognizing that fact is deluding himself. Everyone agrees that Congress and the president must now find a formula to avoid the almost surely disastrous fiscal deadline looming on December 31. On that date the tax breaks instituted during the G.W. Bush years will expire and drastic federal spending cuts will kick in. It was the culture of greed, which predominated during the Bush/Cheney years that created the situation, and it is the remaining subscribers to that culture that have maintained it.
Today, a growing number of members on both sides of the congressional aisle seem to agree with the administration that this catastrophe must somehow be side-stepped. And, there is equally avid support for our repairing this fatal fiscal flaw among leaders of the other economies of the world. If, as predicted, allowing the tax and spending cuts to go into effect plunges the U.S. economy into another recession, the international ripples could destroy several fragile small economies and seriously damage some huge ones (China, EU, India).
Mitt Romney, who supports keeping the tax cuts and proposed even deeper spending cuts, has been defeated and the world’s economic leaders are breathing easier, I expect. But the electors returned almost the same cast of characters in the House of Representatives, the body, which initiates all fiscal legislation. Too many members of the majority party in that body have taken a ‘pledge’ demanded by the gods of conservative policy never, NEVER to vote for additional taxes.
Ergo, the problem: do we allow these lemmings of the right to lead us all over the cliff of fiscal disaster (and take much of the world with us), or can the Obama administration find among the House majority some members willing to compromise and bridge this chasm?
The world is watching this inside-the-beltway drama with more than normal concern. Will America, they are asking, find the rational leadership strong enough to save us all from this disaster born of greed?