Rosario Marin: Fiscal Cliff Deal is not a Gentlemen's Agreement



When I was growing up in Mexico, there was a comedian who, when he found himself in a predicament, would voice, “no se si reír, llorar o ponerme a rezar,” which translates to: “I don’t know whether to laugh, cry or just kneel down and pray”. Funny to say it, but that’s exactly how I feel about this so-called fiscal cliff solution. Quite frankly, I believe there is a lot of that feeling permeating Washington and the whole nation.

This was not a deal; this was not a gentlemen’s agreement. Even by the low standards of Washington, this was hardly anything that is worth celebrating about. There was no champagne to toast and I doubt that even if there was any eggnog left, President Obama and Congress were in the mood to savor their accomplishment. The president left DC for Hawaii in such a rush that he allowed the presidential automated pen to sign his name to this law.

The president left DC for Hawaii in such a rush that he allowed the presidential automated pen to sign his name to this law.

- Rosario Marin, Former U.S. Treasurer

As more details come to light about what the law contains, one gets a very queasy feeling. With barely three hours to go through the paper version of the bill, there was hardly the scrutiny that should be exercised by Congress on a bill of such national importance. But I guess it’s just like Ms. Pelosi, the former Speaker of the House, said about Obamacare: “We have to pass it to see what’s in it.” Maybe that is becoming the standard modus operandi of Congress and that should give us all some pause.

Now we find out that the White House, meaning President Obama, insisted at the last minute to include a whole bunch of pork! An entire section of the fiscal cliff bill is a word by word Senate bill that had been worked on during the summer and it contains about $76 billion in tax credits. Unbelievable, no wonder he left without the opportunity to answer questions. He goes to finish his interrupted vacation and of course in two weeks all the inauguration hoopla won’t allow for any questions either. This will be another issue that will be brushed aside by the media.

In the meantime, what we got was only tax increases. No spending reductions and an admonishment by the president that he won’t negotiate on the debt limit, because according to him, Congress has to pay for the programs they have passed. 

My question is, seriously Mr. President, who signed those pieces of legislation? You cannot escape blame. For the last four years you have had the power of your signature and you have used it to sign the expansion of the government. 

Actually, Mr. President, you have pushed that government spending. All of those spending bills got to your desk because you wanted them. Your appetite for government spending is insatiable, and we can no longer afford it. So stop being so sanctimonious and do what most Americans do at the beginning of the year — go on a diet, a spending diet I mean. We can ill afford more debt borrowing. 

Otherwise, I am afraid all Americans will be left to do is pray. 

Rosario Marin was the 41st Treasurer of the United States and is co-chair of the American Competitiveness Alliance.

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