The term “fiscal cliff” is wearing away at my last nerve. This buzzword is supposed to mean something scary I guess. But who is it that needs to be afraid of the cliff. Not Congress. Not the president. So who does that leave? Yes, us, the American people. And it is for this reason that I propose the adoption of a new kind of cliff, one which is more equal.
Here in California we had a problem getting our legislature to pass a budget. But after a cleverly designed “cliff” the problem seems to have been resolved. The cliff was a resolution in which the legislature agreed that they would not be paid unless they successfully passed a budget. And though they approached the cliff by waiting to the last minute to pass that budget they chose to set aside their differences in favor of getting paid. And a budget was passed.
The problem with the federal fiscal cliff is that the ones who wind up going over the cliff first are (as usual) those who can least afford it. The working class will see significant taxes come out of their paychecks come January. Those who are just barely making ends meet will find that they no longer can be met. But the President and Congress risk little more than not getting elected when their term is up. And by that time they can probably rely on Americans’ short memory to assure that they can again bamboozle them into electing them again. (I know, I know the president can’t be elected again but bear with me for the sake of argument.)
In an earlier blog post I proposed a solution to the health care crisis: Put Congress on Blue Cross. And I am suggesting something similar for such partisan battles as the fiscal cliff. The point here is for our legislators to actually feel our pain, to share in the loss of income or the hassles of dealing with conventional insurance plans.
I think that all three branches of government should simply not be paid until they solve the budget crisis. Never mind the blame game. It won’t matter at whom they can successfully point their fingers because they, the lawmakers, will not be paid until they do thier jobs. the ones we elected them to do. We did it in California so there is a precedent.
I realize that this will not help the current crisis but for the future I think that we need to hold our employees accountable the way our employers hold us accountable. No work, no pay. Simple as that.
The next time we have such a partisan crisis we need to be able to invoke a statute which will provide us with more of a guarantee that our civil servants serve us by doing the jobs for which they were hired. Never mind filibuster reforms, they’ll stop talking and start acting if their wallets are impacted, I guarantee you.
Another way of putting it, using another time worn phrase these days would be to say we are putting them…ahem…”under the gun”.