Another case of no leadership

One would have thought with all the drama supposedly surrounding the deal that averted the “fiscal cliff” that there might actually be something substantive in the deal.

Alas, one would have been wrong. Our leaders in Washington took the courageous stand of not raising income tax rates on 99 percent of Americans. Spending was not even addressed.

At first glance, the bill increases the federal deficit. That means it also adds to the national debt. Remember why the triggers of the fiscal cliff were put in place in 2011? It was because we’d finally realized we couldn’t keep pumping up our long-term debt by spending 50 percent more than the government takes in every year.

Apparently, that realization has gone by the boards.

As others have written this week, if there was a winner this week, it was former President George W. Bush. His tax cuts – castigated by Democrats during the last election – were made permanent by those same Democrats and a bunch of Republicans this week. Only individuals making more than $400,000 per year and families making more than $450,000 saw an increase in tax rates.

The rest of us will enjoy George W.’s rates permanently.

As we’ve written before, we do not know why easy fixes like increasing the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare have not been enacted. As life expectancy increases, the age at which we retire must also go up. This fix was embraced by both parties in the 1980s for Social Security and it should be revisited.

Ah, well, there is another fight coming to increase the debt ceiling. Tax rates are now off the table, so that means spending will have to be addressed.

Or will it? If Washington continues to show the courage displayed this week, our deficit woes will just be kicked down the street again.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.