As members of the House of Representatives begin a leisurely return to Washington for a Sunday evening session, a deal or a partial deal to avert the fiscal cliff seems possible, but only just. House Republicans are an intransigent bunch, and they could still push the country into an economic disaster. Wall Street, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell another 158 points on Friday, seems to be anticipating the worst. So do many consumers. In the first half of December, consumer confidence fell to its lowest levels since August, leading to slower than expected Christmas sales.
But if House Republicans act responsibly and approve a deal, the economy could begin to take off. Home prices have shown healthy gains in recent weeks. Unemployment is at its lowest level since 2008. As President Obama said last evening, the economy is poised for growth, “as long as politics in Washington don’t get in the way of America’s progress.”
Reports of the shape of a possible deal are somewhat discouraging. There has been no mention recently of President Obama’s $50 billion transportation stimulus package. This much-needed down payment on rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure may be out the window. Some reports indicate that Republicans are even balking at including a postponement of the sequester – the mandatory cutbacks in civilian and defense spending that are likely to lead to damaging program cutbacks and government layoffs early in the New Year. That alone would be enough to stifle prospects for economic growth. The “doc fix,” which will maintain current levels of Medicare payments to physicians, seems to be in. We can all breathe a sigh of relief for that.
Here in the 23rd New York, we need economic growth. Our congressman, Rep. Tom Reed, has a choice to make. He can support our interests when he gets back to Washington, or he can opt for confrontation and economic chaos. Here at http://www.newny23rd.com, we’ll be watching.
- Obama has learned that dealing with Republicans is an exercise in futility (easyjjgrand3.newsvine.com)
- Over the fiscal cliff: Soft or hard landing? (newsvine.com)
- Washington Beyond The Cliff: 2013 May Be The Year of Perpetual Fiscal Crisis (forbes.com)
- Obama: Economy can’t afford ‘self-inflicted wound’ (newsvine.com)
- Obama calls for avoiding middle class tax hike (newsinfo.inquirer.net)