The Herald, Sharon, Pa.


December 8, 2012

Locking Obama, Congress in a room might avoid ‘cliff’

---- — As all this talk about the “fiscal cliff” is part of just about every TV and radio broadcast and a daily story in print media, I couldn’t help but think back to my days of covering Sharon City Council.

Longtime politician, the late Vito J. Manilla, was a central figure in Sharon leadership for many years and his words still ring in my ears today: “Never lower taxes.”

As we consider what to do with the “Bush tax cuts” today, it’s a situation that maybe should never have come about. (It was Democrats and Republicans alike in Congress that approved the cuts, although the 2001 move is usually referred to as the work of the former president.)

People become accustomed to paying taxes at a certain level. While nobody loves paying taxes, most of us realize that it is a necessity to maintain a country that operates properly.

But Americans normally are not the most fiscally responsible people. If you lower taxes and give them more money to spend, they will certainly spend it and more (credit cards).

Of course, more spending was supposed to be part of the economic boost. While some economists were certain that it would bring about a quick recovery at the time, others said it was fruitless.

Regardless, to use a trite phrase that I hate, but is part of the speaking commonality of this country: “It is what it is!”

The problem remains: How do we go about boosting taxes without massive pain and suffering?

President Obama and Democrats want to do away only with the tax cuts for the wealthy, while maintaining the current rates for all those making more than $250,000 per year. Republicans claim that will hurt small business owners.

But there are plenty of other items that are up for discussion on which both sides differ, including what entitlements to cut or reduce or what tax breaks to drop.

The biggest problem is the failure of negotiations to reach an agreement on how to keep from going over the so-called fiscal cliff at the final hour of 2012.

(Of course if the Mayans are right, the world will end on Dec. 21, so we won’t have to worry about it.)

Can’t we all just get along? We are a country that tells the Syrians to negotiate with Lebanon and tells the Israelis to negotiate with the Palestinians. We tell Steelers fans to find a way to get along with Browns fans.

But when it comes to Democrats and Republicans who are supposedly the leaders of this country, they can’t find a way to end the idiocy, which is evident on both sides.

Here is the skinny. If we go over the so-called fiscal cliff, it will affect Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Libertarians, Socialists, Communists and people of every other party of choice in this country. It will affect the 99 percent as well as the 1 percent.

It’s time to do what Catholics do when they elect a new pope. They lock the cardinals in a room and they can’t come out until they name the new pope.

We need to lock Obama and Congress in a room, until they reach a settlement. Provide food and drinks for one week, after that nothing to eat or drink. I’m sure they’ll come out with some kind of solution.

If not, they’ll be dead, and we’ll elect new people who can reach a happy medium.

The Herald’s Lynn Saternow writes this column each Saturday for the Opinion Page. He can be reached at

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