Beware the fiscal cliff, Mr. President

Released: 
November 08, 2012

The fiscal cliff looms, with severe, automatic budget cuts set to kick in if President Obama and Congress fail to make tough decisions.

The view from the fiscal cliff is enough to give President Obama vertigo.  But he can’t say he didn’t see it coming.  The government hasn’t spent within its means since 2001.  It now spends more than $1 trillion more than it takes in each year, a deficit accumulating at a rate of $41,210 per second

We’re laying out the hard truths about debt and deficits for the President.  Check out our infographic and links to see that the time for politics is over.  Without congressional action, the government faces automatic budget cuts on Jan. 2, the legacy of Washington’s failure to make tough fiscal decisions.

Brace for a big hit if a deal is not forthcoming: The Pentagon, which stands to get whacked by $50 billion a year for 10 years. 

Other possible candidates for cutting: The food stamp program that serves as a safety net for about one in seven Americans; and federal workers, who already make up a historically smaller force.

Mr. President, it’s time to make Washington work better.  You can’t back away from the fiscal cliff alone. You have to do it hand-in-hand with Congress. There’s no alternative.

Working with Congress is also the key to cutting into that $1.2 trillion in mandatory spending on programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Deficit spending has put the U.S. in a debtor pickle, too – owing more than $16 trillion to nations including China and Japan. Every American would have to cough up more than $50,000 to pay off the federal debt.

What must the President do to tame the deficit?  And what are his options if a contrary Congress refuses to deal?  See “What Do Others Say” for a sampling of opinions.  Then add your own in the discussion thread below.  How far should either party press politics when the fiscal cliff looms?