I've been hesitant to write about the fiscal cliff for some time now, because the status of negotiations has been changing rapidly. I sincerely hope that by the time this column makes it to print, the situation changes and we're on the way to having a solution. For that to happen, Republicans and Democrats alike must be open to reasonable compromise.
As of this writing, however, it doesn't look good.
President Obama is set on raising taxes. He is pushing for a tax increase that is twice the amount he campaigned on. He also proposes that Congress walk away from its duty and allow him to raise the debt ceiling as he sees fit. President Obama and some members of the Democratic party would rather increase tax rates on the wealthy - when this proposal would only fund the government for around eight days - than deal with the real issue: Washington's spending addiction.
We have had four straight years of trillion-dollar deficits, and there is no end in sight. When I was elected two years ago, each American's share of our national debt was approximately $43,500. That share has been continually growing. Today, every American man, woman, and child has a more than $51,000 share of our national debt. When my family of five sits down for dinner tonight, in addition to our other debts, we will owe $255,000 - our share of America's national debt.
Unfortunately, this debt will not be paid back this year or this decade. Thus our children will end up paying more of this debt than we will, because, as they pay back the principal, they will also be paying the interest on this borrowed money. And since the next generation will by definition live longer than the current generation, they will pay the interest and principal for a longer period of time. In fact, if we do not act soon, they will be carrying this burden throughout their lifetimes.
Our parents and grandparents fought hard to leave us with a secure, strong America. Unless "we the people" are willing to make some sacrifices, we will be leaving future generations saddled with massive debt and a weaker future.
I don't want to be recorded in history as someone unwilling to make the tough decisions and to make sacrifices for our children's future.
I don't understand why President Obama is willing to play a dangerous game of chicken, using the middle class as unwilling passengers in his car as he careens toward the fiscal cliff. He may not like Speaker Boehner's proposal to avert the fiscal cliff, but the President is obligated as the leader of this country to stop posturing, campaigning, and slow-walking the negotiations, and offer a plan that can pass both the Senate and the House.
Recently, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said that the Obama Administration was "absolutely" ready to go over the fiscal cliff if taxes aren't increased. Many Congressional Democrats appear to agree with him, and, yes, as usual, they will blame everything on the Republicans.
I've repeatedly stated that I'm willing to make reasonable compromises, but not when it means jeopardizing the future. I wasn't sent to the House of Representatives by residents of the Ninth District to worry about the next election. I was sent there to worry about our future generations, and the future of our children.
Originally, the House was scheduled to be in session through Friday, December 14. As of right now, however, the end date is to be determined. I'm prepared to stay in Washington and continue working in good faith until the stalemate is broken and an agreement is found. If necessary, I hope the President is also willing to cancel his plans to continue negotiating.
As always, if you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.