Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Forerunners of the Fiscal Cliff

Bookmark and Share

Chuck Grassley, Jeff Flake, Jim DeMint, and Kent Conrad have warned about budgetary fiscal cliffs for years

chuckgrassley10.jpgTalk of the 'fiscal cliff' continues to dominate Capitol Hill media coverage in the waning days of the 112th Congress.

The term, which for years had been used by various lawmakers to describe the general budgetary doom and gloom facing the nation, did not really populate congressional coverage until this year, when it became shorthand for the tax increases and federal spending cuts (and predicted subsequent economic sluggishness) slated to take place on January 1, 2013.

Through midday Monday, there have been 33 times as many broadcast media reports mentioning the term 'fiscal cliff' in 2012 (1,410 reports) compared to the previous nine years combined (42 reports), according to a Smart Politics Lexis/Nexis tally.

And there have been more references to the cliff in November alone (710 reports) than in the previous 10 months of 2012 (700 reports).

But although the term may be a new frame for the media today as it covers the federal budget, members of the U.S. House and Senate have warned about various "fiscal cliffs" in state and federal government for the last few decades.

Here is a sampling:

For example, in a subcommittee hearing more than 20 years ago, California's Henry Waxman criticized the experimental Oregon health care plan which sought to ration Medicaid services:

"Just as the state is about to fall off the fiscal cliff, the aged and disabled will join the women and children in the experiment, and the ranking of services will be radically altered." - U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), September 20, 1991

Entitlement programs in particular have long been the driver of the fiscal cliff metaphor:

"A decade of delay in changing Medicare has pushed the health-insurance program to the edge of a fiscal cliff." - U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), July 15, 1997

"The other huge mistake that this budget has in it is that it makes no effort at all to control the accounts which are going to essentially bankrupt our nation for our children, which are the entitlement accounts. We know that we are sending this nation over a fiscal cliff. We know that if we do not act, our children and our grandchildren will not be able to afford this government because of the costs and the burdens of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security." - U.S. Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH), June 4, 2008

One member of Congress - Arizona U.S. Representative and Senator-elect Jeff Flake - has been particularly concerned about the speed with which the nation is approaching the cliff.

"I hope that my opposition to the bill does not imply my support for the Democratic alternative. While the Republican plan will surely take us over the fiscal cliff, the Democrats' plan would only get us there much faster." - U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Editorial to The Hill, July 16, 2003

"Even though we're headed toward a fiscal cliff, Congress has its foot on the accelerator." - Jeff Flake, July 17, 2009

Top Senate Budget Committee member Kent Conrad of North Dakota frequently used the term for nearly a decade to decry the deficit issues facing the nation:

"The fact is, the president has taken us right over the fiscal cliff." - U.S. Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND), July 15, 2003 (after President George W. Bush's administration forcasted a $455-billion budget deficit)

"Even though these are record deficits, according to the President's own estimates, as the baby boomers retire and the full cost of the President's tax cuts explode, we are headed right over the fiscal cliff in this country." - Kent Conrad, July 30, 2004

"The status quo takes us toward a fiscal cliff. We need to change course." - Kent Conrad, January 18, 2007

"We are borrowing 40 cents of every dollar that we spend in this country. That is not sustainable. We are headed for a fiscal cliff. America is in danger." - Kent Conrad, December 1, 2010

Conrad's colleague on the Republican side of the aisle who has been most likely to take up the fiscal cliff metaphor is South Carolina's Jim DeMint:

We must get serious about reforming our complicated tax code that is destroying jobs, and finally reform Social Security and Medicare before they take us over a fiscal cliff. - U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), November 4, 2008

"If federal spending actually created economic growth, our economy would be booming right now. We are trillions of dollars in debt and Obama's massive new spending program threatens to send our nation over a fiscal cliff, leading to higher taxes and fewer jobs." - Jim DeMint, November 24, 2008

"This is about turning our country away from a fiscal cliff. We're in trouble, and we don't have time to play politics anymore." - Jim DeMint, November 7, 2010

Some lawmakers on the Hill are currently suggesting it would be better to fall off the cliff than to work out a compromise agreement.

That's a clear sign they have not heeded the warnings of fiscal cliffs from the members of congress quoted above - Democrats and Republicans alike who did not want the country to get anywhere near such a precipice.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: Ohio: Gerrymandering 1, Obama Coattails 0
Next post: Ohio: The Nation's Battleground Since 1828

Leave a comment


Remains of the Data

Is There a Presidential Drag On Gubernatorial Elections?

Only five of the 20 presidents to serve since 1900 have seen their party win a majority of gubernatorial elections during their administrations, and only one since JFK.

Political Crumbs

Strike Three for Miller-Meeks

Iowa Republicans had a banner day on November 4th, picking up both a U.S. Senate seat and one U.S. House seat, but Mariannette Miller-Meeks' defeat in her third attempt to oust Democrat Dave Loebsack in the 2nd CD means the GOP will not have a monopoly on the state's congressional delegation in the 114th Congress. The loss by Miller-Meeks (following up her defeats in 2008 and 2010) means major party nominees who lost their first two Iowa U.S. House races are now 0 for 10 the third time around in Iowa history. Miller-Meeks joins Democrat William Leffingwell (1858, 1868, 1870), Democrat Anthony Van Wagenen (1894, 1912 (special), 1912), Democrat James Murtagh (1906, 1914, 1916), Democrat Clair Williams (1944, 1946, 1952), Democrat Steven Carter (1948, 1950, 1956), Republican Don Mahon (1966, 1968, 1970), Republican Tom Riley (1968, 1974, 1976), Democrat Eric Tabor (1986, 1988, 1990), and Democrat Bill Gluba (1982, 1988, 2004) on the Hawkeye State's Three Strikes list.


Larry Pressler Wins the Silver

Larry Pressler may have fallen short in his long-shot, underfunded, and understaffed bid to return to the nation's upper legislative chamber, but he did end up notching the best showing for a non-major party South Dakota U.S. Senate candidate in more than 90 years. Pressler won 17.1 percent of the vote which is the best showing for an independent or third party U.S. Senate candidate in the state since 1920 when non-partisan candidate Tom Ayres won 24.1 percent in a race won by Republican Peter Norbeck. Overall, Pressler's 17.1 percent is good for the second best mark for a non-major party candidate across the 35 U.S. Senate contests in South Dakota history. Independent and third party candidates have appeared on the South Dakota U.S. Senate ballot just 25 times over the last century and only three have reached double digits: Pressler in 2014 and Ayres in 1920 and 1924 (12.1 percent). Pressler's defeat means he won't become the oldest candidate elected to the chamber in South Dakota history nor notch the record for the longest gap in service in the direct election era.


more POLITICAL CRUMBS

Humphrey School Sites
CSPG
Humphrey New Media Hub

Issues />

<div id=
Abortion
Afghanistan
Budget and taxes
Campaign finances
Crime and punishment
Economy and jobs
Education
Energy
Environment
Foreign affairs
Gender
Health
Housing
Ideology
Immigration
Iraq
Media
Military
Partisanship
Race and ethnicity
Reapportionment
Redistricting
Religion
Sexuality
Sports
Terrorism
Third parties
Transportation
Voting