Fiscal cliff woes


In the real world, negotiations proceed as a series of offers, counteroffers and counters to the counteroffers. In the discussions as to how to avoid going over the fiscal cliff, President Obama has made an offer, which meets the criteria for a serious offer, in that it gives dollar amounts and specifies actions.

It may not be acceptable — initial offers rarely are — but it should be subject to a counter offer. Instead the Republicans have ridiculed it and not made a counteroffer. In effect they are saying, that the president must make them an offer that they can accept without the necessity of having to negotiate. Some might call this extortion or blackmail, but whatever it is, it is not negotiation. We, the people, should insist that the Republicans engage in actual negotiations.

Herb Wolfson, Bal Harbour

The Dec. 3 guest editorial from the Kansas City Star, without a doubt, deserves praise in some of the points expressed but particularly for its effort to avoid the dangerous fiscal cliff catastrophe.

At the same time, I can’t help but sense the malady, common to the mainstream media, of making of the Republicans the intransigents on this issue when it is so blatantly evident that BOTH parties are behaving quite intransigently. (Just read the White House’s initial proposal!) At this point, it is obvious that the will to compromise is not there.

What are we to do?

As a concerned citizen, my humble take is to start the debate from the very source of this crisis, the very opposite philosophies of government of the two parties and search for an abstract compromise there before attempting agreement on quite concrete economic details. But where is a possible common ground?

It is in this fundamental truth, clearly ratified again in the last election: we are a 50-50 country. Consequently, there is no other prescription, no other choice, for a happy America than to be governed from the center. Therefore, in this context, it is imperative for Mr. Obama to accept that there’s nothing close to a mandate from a so equally divided nation and for Republicans to understand and accept that Grover Norquist’s pledge is not only economically absurd but, worse, politically absurd. I don’t know but I believe that in finding an agreement on the philosophical direction the government is to take (centrist) both parties would find themselves more prone to set their economic policies accordingly.

Then, there is that troubleshooter, centrist par excellence, Bill Clinton, who heavens know, may be willing to bring them a tip or two.

Felipe Fernandez, Miami

Glenn Garvin’s op-ed piece, “Of Pipe Dreams and Fairy Tales,” presents a narrow view of the state of an American economy teetering on the brink of the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

True, the November CBO report contains some hard truths about where the economy may head, both in the near and long term, but it’s a mistake to consider these numbers in the vacuum in which they were crunched. For example, the CBO report tells us that repeal of the Affordable Care Act would potentially reduce the deficit in 2020 by $150 billion, but that figure is derived from the outlay of benefits to citizens; there is no consideration given to the cost reductions realized under the ACA. The same is true of Medicare; the CBO report suggests increasing both the premium paid by seniors and the eligibility age, but it does not address the projected cost savings of $716 billion. Apparently, Garvin has concluded that because the CBO report did not drill deeper into the figures it presented, the efficiencies contained in Mr. Obama’s vision are “budget fantasies.”

The Declaration of Independence celebrates “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” as unalienable rights. I would argue that affordable, high-quality health care is as vital to “Life” as the air we breathe.

Michael Horen, Pembroke Pines

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