As Congress and the White House put up a front of frantically trying to put together a deal to avoid the so called "fiscal cliff" the punch line is, we went over that cliff years ago, and the fleecing of the younger generations is already well underway.
I'd say the actual edge of the cliff occurred in late 2008 with the passage of TARP. We were in a situation where large banks, financial institutions and car companies were on the verge of failure. Had they been allowed to fail, perhaps we'd have been plunged into a depression; a depression we'd be out of by now. Yes, financial institutions and car companies would have gone under, and they'd have been replaced by new financial institutions and car companies. Instead, John McCain famously suspended his campaign to run to Washington D.C. and put a stop to the madness, then promptly embraced the madness.
Republicans and Democrats alike decided that preserving the comfort level of the older generation was paramount, even if that meant throwing younger generations under the bus, and under the bus is where the younger generation is now. By the way, the average age of members of Congress is 60.
Consider what has already been decided by both parties. Entitlement changes for anyone 55 or older, the generations that are actually responsible for our out of control debt, are out of the question. For future generations, raising the eligibility ages and reducing benefits are a foregone conclusion. They just need to work out the details.
Even with cuts to entitlements and tax hikes, there is no plan for actually achieving a balanced budget, never mind paying down the debt. The plan only calls for reducing the rate of growth of the debt a bit from what it's projected to be now. That means that in a few more years, we'll be looking at another fiscal crisis, but by that time, the folks working on today's deal will be comfortably retired.
A strong leader with a real plan has not emerged on the national stage because the environment isn't there for one at the moment. Why would someone put themselves into the political meat grinder knowing they'll be despised for pointing out the obvious and end up losing anyway?
The American public is not convinced that major short term pain is the right medicine. So, for the time being we will continue the descent over the cliff. Remember, it's not the fall the kills you. It's the sudden stop.