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Where’s the ‘fiscal cliff’ penalty on our leaders?

The last paragraph of Richard Cohen’s Dec. 25 op-ed column, “No runs, no hits, many errors,” presented, in stark relief, the Kafkaesque nature of the penalty for failure contained in the Budget Control Act of 2011.

Congress and the president devised a penalty in which they suffer no direct consequences for their failure to responsibly govern. Instead, they synthesized the so-called fiscal cliff and imposed its potentially calamitous consequences on the U.S. economy and, by extension, millions of working people whose employment, savings and investments depend on the strength and advancement of that economy.

Perhaps the consequences for failure should have been imposed directly on the president and Congress. The president and each member of Congress should be assessed a significant financial penalty for each day beyond Jan. 1 in which they do not reach agreement on deficit reduction. Perhaps if they were immediately, personally and adversely affected, they would be more willing to compromise.

I think a compromise should reflect a combination of revenue increases and entitlement reductions that might not be ideal to all parties but, nonetheless, would resolve the budget-deficit problem in a rational way.

Joseph F. Slomski, Fairfax Station

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