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Irwin Stelzer | The New Normal





None of the deals proposed to save us from falling off the mythical cliff would make even a tiny dent in our on-going trillion dollar deficits, which is what this exercise was supposed to be all about. The final battle has now been postponed until February or March, when we hit the debt ceiling.

Republicans hope to get spending cuts from the president in return for agreeing to an increase in the debt ceiling, and the president plans to force Republicans to accept tax increases so that in the absence of spending cuts the ceiling will not be pierced. All of which means a continuation of the uncertainty that has become part of the new normal, which has big business sitting on its piles of cash, and small businesses wondering whether they dare take on new employees. The private sector will have to overcome substantial political headwinds to produce a meaningful growth rate in 2013.

Of course, in the end the enemy is us: We elect and reelect the vast majority of those who are presiding over this policy mess. It is as if the Jets decide to keep the current coaching staff and player roster after their woeful performance this season; as if Wizards fans find ways to express overwhelming satisfaction with the current cast of characters that represent them at the Verizon Center; as if we come to agree with many Europeans who regard Jimmy Carter as the most distinguished former president, and demand his return to political life.

Happy New Year.

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