The fiscal cliff Americans are being told to fear is really a fake cliff built on a cable news set, using green screen technology and computer generated imagery.
And the cable news industry are the only players in this fake crisis who will benefit from the breathless countdown to December 31, with their "days to fiscal cliff" widget at the lower right hand corner of the screen.
It is almost as if the Congress is more eager to serve the interests of their respective benefactors at Fox News and MSNBC, rather than those of the American people.
Last December, the usual end of year news slowdown was rescued by another manufactured crisis. Instead of just raising the debt ceiling, as had been done with little or no acrimony in the past, Republicans(many of whom didn't even understand what the debt ceiling was) held this usually automatic act hostage by insisting on massive spending cuts. And when both parties couldn't agree on what cuts to make, the sequestration process was put into effect which led us to the manufactured crisis that is the fiscal cliff. Simply put, if the Republicans had just allowed the debt ceiling to rise last year, we would not be in this made for TV situation.
There are only two things that need to be done to avoid damaging our economy in the short term. Let the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire, and vote, as the Senate has already done, to keep the tax cuts for everyone else. That alone will save at least $800 billion over 10 years. And vote to repeal the sequestration spending cuts.
Nothing else needs to be done now. While our deficit must be addressed, racing against an imaginary clock, and holiday vacations, is not the way to do it. No spending cuts should be enacted before the end of the year. This process should be taken up next year, in a thoughtful, unhurried manner.
If that happens, it will be good news for everyone. Except the cable news networks.