The Case for Falling Off the Fiscal Cliff

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Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Fiscal Cliff is on the Way!

This is the mixed message we've been getting in the news this December. The retail season has been a good one thus far. Come January 1, however, if Congress and the White House don't reach a grand bargain, we will all be sent hurtling over the Fiscal Cliff, with its commensurate economic misery for the middle class.

We're supposed to be scared into some sort of deal by December 31...or else!

But what is the "or else"?

At the bewitching hour of midnight, taxes are set to go up and spending is set to get cut--this is automatic if the government fails to act. This is also, by the way, a bed that was made by congresses and presidents of both parties, in recognition of the growing debt and deficits.

And if we leap? Expect much more cooperation as members of Congress are in a mad dash to be tax-cutters, and spending restorers. So maybe the top brackets pay a little more, just not 4 percent more. And maybe the number of folks who don't pay federal income taxes goes down from 47%. Perhaps only the most critical spending gets restored, but we still cut more than either of the two versions of a deal that are on the table right now.

Don't forget, too, that the $2000 to $4000 hit the middle class is supposed to take once we take the leap is an annual total. Tax policy is commonly done on a retroactive to the first of the year. The chances that any of us take the hits we are being promised aren't very high.

Maybe, just maybe, no deal is better than a bad one--including that of kicking the can another 12 months down the road.