Given the way American politics function, here is what I expect to read on January 1, 2013:
Economy Falls Off Cliff; Nation Mourns
Unable to reach an agreement on tax increases and spending cuts for the coming fiscal year, the U.S. economy fell off the fiscal cliff today, hurling head first into the abyss of a recession. The economy is not expected to recover from its injuries.
Congressional Democrats immediately made public statements to denounce the violence against our economy and vowed to introduce legislation “in the near future” to combat future cliff dives.
“The fall over fiscal cliff was entirely preventable if we would have had the political courage to take steps that most Americans agree do not infringe on individual rights,” said Rep. Nancy Pelosi. “We must not be cowed by special interest at this time of national tragedy. We must act, and the innocent victims of this senseless economic attack demand that we act.”
Rep. Pelosi read the names aloud of the victims of the fiscal cliff in a solemn ceremony in the House chamber.
“Medicaid recipients…the elderly…the unemployed…residents of California…employees of Lockheed Martin…”
Republican Speaker John Boehner took offense to Pelosi’s grandstanding, calling her statements “shameless politicizing” when we should be joining together to mourn the untimely end of our nation’s economic growth.
“It is too soon to be suggesting legislative remedies to this tragedy when families are still openly grieving the loss of government support and government contractors are grieving the loss of lucrative contracts for obsolete military hardware. Emotions are too raw,” he said through visible tears, “and we need a sufficient period of reflection before moving forward on fiscal cliff solutions. I mean, our economy has only been buried for one day.”
Sen. Mitch McConnell chimed in from the Senate chamber and expressed his belief that the Democrats were exploiting the economic tragedy solely for partisan gain.
“It is a sadly predictable knee-jerk reaction to any event like this from the Democrats – ‘we need different laws’. Well, I say that if every citizen was armed with the pride of rugged individualism that comes from self-employment, we wouldn’t need different laws. No one would dare threaten an American with a fiscal cliff if they knew that every American was carrying his own weight.”
Democrats countered that enforcing laws already on the books would be acceptable to them, if that included the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for high earners that were schedule by law to end December 31, 2012.
Some legislators were willing in the wake of the economic carnage to consider reasonable changes to existing law. One such proposal included a ban on verbal assaults on those who suggest an increase to the retirement age or an increase in the top tax rate to Clinton-era levels. The Verbal Assault ban has never garnered more than a handful of votes in Congress, but now that the economy has fallen off the cliff, proponents are optimistic that a ban has momentum.
“It’s too soon to talk about that. Democrats are so insensitive. This economic catastrophe deserves a dignified period of bereavement.”
“When is it ever the right time to talk about these issues? We think it best to talk now, before another fiscal year is sacrificed needlessly over the cliff. We owe it to our children.”
Grieving citizens, including the families of the victims of the economic calamity, started a makeshift memorial outside the Capitol in Washington, DC, placing paystubs from former jobs and stacks of mortgage delinquency notices on the steps. Pictures of those missing since the national fall off of the cliff were hung on lampposts across Constitution Avenue.
Said one despondent mourner, “It didn’t have to be this way. U.S. economy, we will miss you.”
Congressional talks with the White House are expected to resume on solving this issue after a series of memorial services are held for the first victims - responsibility, fairness and common sense.