After November’s election, many U.S. representatives and senators were unseated, and their terms will end in January. These congressmen and congresswomen now are serving their “lame duck” period as representatives, a time usually defined by inactivity and a lack of productivity among our government.
However, this Congress has a daunting task ahead of it before this year is over: an impending “fiscal cliff” that many say could put this country back into a deep recession unless Congress and a re-elected President Barack Obama can come to an agreement.
The “fiscal cliff” is a term that denotes more than $500 billion in tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to take effect after Jan. 1 for the 2013 fiscal year. If Congress is unable to compromise or create an alternative plan, taxes would rise for nearly every American and many businesses. Funding for federal programs, including defense and education, would be cut substantially.
Omari Sankofa II
Many Americans are puzzled as to how we ended up in this position. A looming fiscal cliff could ruin any sort of economic progress this country has made during the past few years. But it is the congressmen and congresswomen, both Democrats and Republicans, who put us in this position, delaying compromise and debate until after the election season and during a “lame duck” session of Congress, most likely to protect themselves from criticism during election season.
With such behavior displayed by our representatives, it is no surprise that a recent Gallup poll shows 54 percent of those surveyed gave members of Congress a very low honesty rating, while only 10 percent gave representatives a very high honesty rating. The only profession that received lower marks in the survey were car salespeople.
Both parties have put forth plans to make sure the country does not go over the fiscal cliff, but the opposing parties have scoffed at the proposals. President Obama and fellow Democrats want to raise taxes on America’s most wealthy, any family making more than $250,000 a year, while cutting funding for entitlement programs.
Speaker of the House John Boehner and fellow Republicans desire simplifying the tax code and eliminating loopholes to gain revenue while also making severe cuts in entitlement programs. With such conflicting plans and with both sides vehemently opposing the proposals put forth by the opposing party, compromise seems unlikely.
With only a few weeks until the new year, Congress needs to put aside petty arguments and disagreements and come to a compromise before the country goes over the fiscal cliff, leaving virtually every American to suffer the consequences. We elect our representatives to go to Washington, D.C., and work for our interests and make decisions on how to make America a better place. It is time members of Congress actually start listening to one another to come to a fair compromise.
If they fail to do so, Americans will make sure to respond appropriately by electing different representatives in 2014, leaving these congressmen and congresswomen who were unable to make a decision unemployed with the millions of other Americans who most likely will be unemployed because of Congress’s lack of action on this crucial issue.