In an unusually rambling piece (from which I am transmitting only the central paragraphs), George Will gets to the epistemological heart of the “fiscal cliff”:
“[S]pending is the main culprit” because: Today federal revenue is $2.67 trillion (slightly less than “the Clinton equivalent”) and spending is $3.76 trillion, so we are spending $987 billion more than we would be if we had just increased Bill Clinton’s last budget for inflation and population growth.
“Philosophy,” said the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, “is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language.” In unphilosophic Washington, bewitchment is cultivated. Notice how quickly and thoroughly a phrase used intermittently for more than 50 years—“fiscal cliff”—was made ubiquitous by one of Washington’s least flamboyant speakers (Ben Bernanke). This melodramatic language encourages the supposition that plunging off the (metaphorical) cliff is unthinkable. But as this column has hitherto noted, the cliff’s consequences—huge tax increases and defense cuts—are progressivism’s agenda. And Obama needs to restock the pantry where he stores his excuses for his economic policy failures. The tax increases would augment his policy of enlarging government’s control of the nation’s economic output, and he could henceforth blame continuing economic anemia on Republicans who supposedly should have averted what progressives desire.
The term “fiscal cliff” is an attempt to blame Republicans for the consequences of a recession-causing $500 billion/year tax increase that Democrat spending increases of $500 billion/yr now necessitate—necessitate, that is, if outright national bankruptcy (some time in the next four to eight years) is to be averted.
“Fiscal cliff” is a self-contradictory nonsense term which describes the self-contradictory nonsense parliamentary maneuver in which those who oppose tax increases are to blamed for a crippling tax increase because they oppose it.—JFW