What ‘fiscal cliff’?

The sky’s not going to fall on Dec. 31

Count us among those who think that the so-called “fiscal cliff” is actually more of a “fiscal slope” whose impacts would be felt gradually, not immediately. That’s why President Obama should hold strong to his insistence on raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. He’s got a mandate now. If recalcitrant Republicans balk at new taxes, he should just let the Bush tax cuts—which after all were passed as temporary measures—expire.

Then, in January with a new Congress seated, he could reduce taxes on all but the wealthiest Americans. Many Republicans would go along because it’s a tax reduction, not a tax hike, and doesn’t violate their foolish no-tax pledge.

That would also give Congress plenty of time to fine-tune cuts to the Pentagon as well as other automatic elements such as hiking the payroll tax, expanding use of the alternative minimum tax and cutting Medicare payments to doctors.

The worst thing Obama could do is go along with an austerity program that would reduce the budget deficit on the backs of the poor, the sick and the young while letting the wealthy go on paying less than their fair share of taxes. He’s said he has no intention of doing that, and we expect him to be true to his word.

It strikes us that the Democrats are holding the best cards here, and that their hand will only get better after Jan 1. They should stop fear-mongering about the “fiscal cliff” and the likelihood of recession and prepare people for a gradual resolution of the problem. The sky won’t fall on Dec. 31.