Over the course of the rest of the year, the American people will hear about the need to save the nation from the “fiscal cliff”, a crisis of epic proportions brought on by the unique blend of political gridlock, “kick the can down the road” leadership, and self-imposed legislative deadlines.
Throughout the negotiations, the messaging will remain the same. We will continue to hear that Washington must do whatever necessary to bring stability back to America’s fiscal house, along with putting provisions in place to help the middle class avoid the consequences of the fiscal cliff.
Yet, that begs a question that many throughout America are already asking themselves: what about those Americans that have already fallen off of the cliff via current long-term unemployment, the housing market devastation over the past few years, and decades of malignant neglect in key areas of the nation that has created a population of harder-to-employ citizens?
We need more than just a set of leaders to pump the brakes to keep government from heading over the fiscal cliff. We clearly also need a bungee cord to save those that already have given up on the second act of America in the 21st century in order to bring them back into the fold.
There are plenty of Americans that have resigned themselves to second-rate economic status in the “recovery” from the Great Recession. Without changing that outlook, our prospects for the nation as the geopolitical leader for decades to come will be second-rate at best.
Any set of agreements coming out of the talks to avoid the fiscal cliff must incorporate this notion: explicit directives must also be put into place that re-capture the disengaged and wasted human capital that has been lost over the past 10 years in America. Without such clear, focused, and forward-thinking goals being embraced at this point, we are doomed as a nation to repeat this exercise of avoiding financial calamity in the halls of government on a regular basis down the road.
The only true approach to curtailing the entitlement spending that threatens to bankrupt the nation and jeopardize national sovereignty in this global environment is to create conditions where more Americans are capable of caring for themselves past their years of prime employment and wage earning. Currently, the number of Americans that are sliding towards permanent Second- and Third-World living conditions continues to rise. As we have learned throughout history (and most recently with the USSR), no nation of military power and collective wealth can survive if a growing number of its citizens struggle to participate in and contribute to the highest potential of that nation.
Avoiding having our economy go over this fiscal cliff is irrelevant in the long-term if too many citizens continue to get run over by the American economy instead of being on-board with a resurging economy.
As well, a prime method of keeping the sovereignty of the United States intact while looking to appropriately streamline defense spending must include making America a stronger, smarter, and more diverse economic power immediately. We heard throughout the presidential campaign season that part of this strategy must include energy independence. However, with that directive – and other initiatives designed to make America stronger in the geo-economic realm – must come the recognition that these policies, when implemented, must be job-creating endeavors that revive the broken micro-economies in communities where America is hurting the most. While most throughout 2012 have been focused on speaking directly to current and future voters, the focus post-2012 (starting with fiscal cliff talks) must speak with a tone that re-engages the lost potential of thousands of Americans. It is with these hardy and willing individuals that the middle class can expand, the tax base can broaden, and the need to continue the ad nauseum clip of spending can be curtailed – all without the current sense of impending pain, possible class warfare, and continued partisan angst spreading across the land.
It is true: the middle class needs a break. However, the working class and the poor need a shot at participating in America’s second act in the 21st century as valued players in the post-Recession economy. We are at the point where we must revitalize a vibrant working section of Americans that is willing to contribute to America’s second act as tax-paying employees, successful businesspeople, and patriotic citizens that are building a better path for our children and grandchildren – one that most appropriately and successfully leads away from the fiscal cliff.