Say what you want for 2010, but it seems as if the battle lines for the 2012 presidential election were drawn in the sand this December. What are these issues? The forefront of the election will center on the economy. It’s not quite surprising is it? After all, since 2008, “we” – Congress that is – bailed out banks, car manufacturers and it was even proposed that the pornography industry could benefit from this economic “stimulus.” As if.
Even while economists claim a glimmer of hope exists for the coming year, this reassurance is hardly comforting given that 2010 has been so dismal. Housing prices have stagnated, and no one seems quite sure if they have bottomed out. It’s just as difficult to read the tea leaves of applications for unemployment benefits. Still we try. Even the television stations try to spin the news to make it palatable to the American public. The problem, of course, is the reality of the situation. The mirage of future economic prosperity being right around the corner does little to placate the family whose house is underwater and the homeowner who has become recently laid off.
One of our greatest problems is our fundamental failure to understand that we are far more than a stone’s throw away from our economic solution. For the past two years, we’ve tried putting on band-aids to plug the aortic rupture of our financial problems. In doing so, our congressional leaders have used neither a scalpel nor a hatchet to operate on the economy. Rather, we’ve treated the symptoms but failed to address the cause. How have we treated the symptoms? Predominately though stimulus and bailouts.
If we use a band-aid when stitches are required, we jeopardize exacerbating the condition. Unfortunately, this is the case. The federal deficit is larger now than at any time in American history – the last two years have added more to it than any other administration, Washington through Regan, combined.
Taxes, too, form part and parcel of the economy. Too high, taxes retard growth and depress the economy. Too low, the government cannot provide for the safety and welfare of its citizens. The Bush-era tax breaks, of course, were only extended for two more years and will lapse shortly after the next presidential election absent congressional intervention. For many Americans, this issue will remain dormant for the next twelve months until 2010 when the gears of political machinery will place this in contention.
So what of 2011? If past is prelude, 2011 won’t be greatly different from 2010. Certain those on Capitol Hill will continue to suggest that recovery is nigh, but I suppose that isn’t any different from the past twelve months. It’s not that I’m pessimistic, but I’m not quite even guardedly optimistic. Until our leaders decide to take more aggressive steps to address federal spending and the deficit, I expect the band-aid to stay on another year.