Ackerman: History suggests grand bargain before ‘fiscal cliff’
The “fiscal cliff,” a combination of tax increases and severe spending cuts scheduled to kick in next year, is a product of multiple deceptions. Both the expiration date on the Bush-era tax cuts and the trillion-dollar “sequesters” that were enacted as part of last year’s debt-ceiling deal were designed to cover up an overarching problem – the country’s out-of-control debt.
The U.S. government today owes $16.05 trillion to bondholders and creditors, more than $51,000 for every American.
In its 235-year history, only twice has the country run up this big of a tab: during the Civil War and World War II. Each time, though, the United States managed to dig its way back, regain its credit, and emerge as the world’s leading economy. Both episodes offer lessons for today’s predicament.
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