We need to talk fiscal cliff, people! Not from the perspective of spreading fear and angst regarding some potential catastrophic fiscal happening coming in our near future, but more so from the perspective of what it means to the way Americans think about budgeting, debt and fiscal policies in general.
But first, what is the fiscal cliff? Going over the fiscal cliff would be the result of the enactment of a number of tax increases and spending cuts that are set to come into effect at the beginning of 2013 should no alternate legislation be passed by the end of the year. Portions of this package of fiscal changes were enacted as a compromise in response to the government’s precarious approach to the debt ceiling in 2011. So while some would say the fiscal cliff has nothing to do directly with our country’s deficit, there is a causal connection between our government’s general desire to perpetuate the use of extreme debt at the public level, and the measures we may see enacted by the end of this month.
So why should we care about going over some fiscal cliff? How bad could the effect of these measures really be? Well, some analysts, as well as the Congressional Budget Office, are forecasting a pretty significant recession at the beginning of 2013 should these measures go into effect. Hence the daily updates in the news regarding Congress and the President’s efforts to nail down some alternate plan to avoid the cliff. In just the last few days we’ve seen some major players in the government infrastructure putting their folks on notice that sequestration is coming very soon (look that one up for your homework). And on a personal level, going over the cliff will mean an immediate increase in taxes that will come out of your paycheck each pay period, as well as a reduction of the benefits you would otherwise see on your tax return had the cliff been avoided.
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, here’s what I really want to talk about over the next few days:
What sort of expectations should we have regarding America’s debt and fiscal policies and practices, and of the negotiation styles used by our representatives in getting to policy establishment?
It may sound like I’m coming a little late to the party when I say our government has fallen far and fast from the application of certain Biblical principles when setting fiscal policy (yup, I said that – I do believe our government in the not too distant past actually valued and applied Biblical principles as they set public policy), but I don’t think it’s time to consider this concept passé. I refuse to slip into some passive state of acceptance about the direction we are heading as a nation when it comes to our spending. As a follower of Jesus and a child of God, I believe the ways of the Kingdom work in every area of life – even in the fiscal matters of the United States in 2012.
In Luke 11:2, Jesus tells us to pray that God’s name be kept holy in the earth and that His Kingdom would come soon, on earth as it is in Heaven. Last time I checked, the Kingdom doesn’t run on debt and its constituents do not ruthlessly negotiate with one another in order to see God’s will come to pass. Prayer and reliance on God’s principles are what make the Kingdom go ‘round.
It’s not too late, folks. With prayer and declaration (in prayer, over circumstances and to our representatives) and in following Kingdom principles in our own fiscal and debt policies at the family level, I believe we actually can effect a change in how our nation spends. This isn’t a partisan issue – there are no parties in God’s Kingdom. This is an obedience issue and I think it’s time we discuss it from this perspective.