Once again we have a political punt.
With no time left on the clock, Senate Democrats and Republicans have approved a deal to avoid the most immediate consequences of the so-called “fiscal cliff.” The defining feature of the deal, however, is that it leaves much more to be done.
The deal -- which the House must still vote on -- requires no hard choices and solves no difficult problems.
There is no entitlement reform, no tax reform and no framework or process for addressing these critical needs in 2013. Meanwhile, the indiscriminate and disproportionate discretionary spending cuts mandated by last year’s Budget Control Act are postponed, creating a new cliff.
And with no increase in the statutory debt limit, it still looms as the next self-imposed crisis to remind everyone of how dysfunctional the legislative process has become on Capitol Hill.
So we have a deal, but not a grand bargain. The best that can be said for it is that it smoothes out a portion of the cliff. That will benefit the economy in the very near term, but aside from some relatively minor tax increases on the highest of income earners, the net result of the fiscal cliff deal is to preserve an unsustainable status quo.
The unfinished business has not gone away. It has simply been handed off to the new...