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'Fiscal cliff' deal is better than the alternative, but only a little

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: January 3, 2013

Lawmakers did do middle-income families a favor by indexing the alternative minimum tax for inflation, instead of allowing a tax increase to kick in. Doctors won't see cuts in their Medicare reimbursements. Child tax credits and earned income tax credits will be extended. The wind energy tax credit was renewed.

However, the proposed cuts in defense and domestic programs are still with us. This agreement simply delays them for two months. And this deal isn't exactly jet fuel for the economy. Ben Schwartz, chief market strategist for Lightspeed Financial, summed it up this way: “Regardless of a deal getting done, people on Wall Street are not going to run around giving high-fives.”

Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid remain untouched, indeed unapproached. Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan came up with a serious plan to reform Medicare and was portrayed by Democrats as wanting to kick grandma to the curb. Suggestions to raise the retirement age for Social Security, or reduce benefits for the wealthiest workers, were rejected and their proponents demonized. The president asked a bipartisan commission to produce a plan to reduce the deficit, the group suggested changes to Social Security (among other things) and Obama spiked the recommendations.

The deal reached this week was better than no deal at all, given the alternative. But because Obama and his party aren't serious about reducing the nation's exploding and crippling debt, we'll be back on the edge of the cliff again soon.

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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