As if one fiscal cliff wasn’t enough, on Wednesday Matt Miller broke the news to The Cycle that there may be endless cliffs on the horizon.
Ech! That was Steve Kornacki’s reaction to Miller’s Endless Cliff Hypothesis. Miller explained that America’s current state of “perfectly dysfunctional political equilibrium”–what others may call partisanship–may force us to lurch from one fiscal fiasco to the next. Miller elaborated:
“Even if they do some deal a little before January 1–or even a couple weeks afterward–it’ll only be some bridge deal that lays out a ‘framework’ for where we’re gonna go and then sets up another cliff in six or eight months with serious consequences to follow if they don’t make that deal. But if the politics won’t let the bigger deal come together now, what’s gonna change in six months that’ll let it come together then? And we could end up kind of rolling from cliff to cliff with no end in sight.”
That sounds like a nightmare. Mr. Miller has his own plan– or plea, as it may be –as to what President Obama can do on the issue of the debt limit, but that’s only one part of the fiscal challenge. Miller says that the main goal needs to be, of course, keeping America solvent, but that when looking at the bigger picture, “we need an agenda to renew the country.” We’re not even close to that point and so predicting a rough period for America–even for a serial optimist like Miller–isn’t such a far reach.
Miller isn’t alone in wishing (or begging) for compromise. According to new results from the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 65% of Americans want to see a deal as well–even if Democrats and Republicans have to compromise on their main issues. For Democrats that would mean a deal with targeted spending cuts to Social Security and Medicare, while Republicans would have to come to terms with targeted increases in tax rates. Americans acknowledge the same fact that House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer did Wednesday on NOW with Alex Wagner: ”If we reach an agreement, there are gonna be items in it that everybody doesn’t like.”
No deal is going to make both sides fully happy–and that’s probably how you know it’s a good deal. So if the options are fiscal cliffs forever or a Capitol Hill filled with legislators who are unhappy, we’ll take Option 2.