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VOL. 6 | NO. 2 | Saturday, January 5, 2013

Time for Solutions, Not Political Football

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It turns out the edge of the fiscal cliff, strictly speaking, would have been reached at about noon Thursday, Jan. 3, not at one minute past midnight New Year’s Day.

The markets, however, probably would have reacted as soon as the markets opened the day before.

Whenever the true deadline occurred, it was not an incentive for both parties to make a meaningful and substantive move toward consensus on locked-in spending cuts.

We will be back at the horns of this dilemma repeatedly this year.

And all sides with a vote on this are missing the point. They apologize for putting us through this uncertainty and then point at the other guys with the other letter by their names designating their party.

Their problem is they still don’t understand that outside the beltway, we see all of them as the problem. Most of us really don’t distinguish one party from another when it is necessary to figure out who is responsible for this unique brand of gridlock. It still takes two sides to lock things up.

And it takes two sides with a particularly distorted view of reality to try to sell it as movement of some kind.

Our problem is neither side understands is that this will continue to endanger our economic recovery. Whether our taxes will go up or not is an important consideration. But what businesses – their owners and their workers – need is a long-range plan that allows for a view beyond the next few months of “action” in Congress.

We heard that last year during the Presidential and Congressional campaigns from Rusty Fowler, the president and CEO of Krone North America. He invited U.S. Reps. Steve Cohen and Stephen Fincher to the company headquarters by Memphis International Airport for a tour of the farm machinery company.

“We can plan if we know what to plan for,” Fowler told us later. “We can’t plan if everything is up in the air and no firm decisions.”

The message applies to the fiscal cliff. But what Fowler and his team had in mind specifically during those meetings was federal health care law.

As this week’s cover story indicates, the state’s decision about whether or not to have its own insurance exchange was an important decision. But still to come is a decision on expanded Medicaid funding for TennCare, our version of Medicaid in Tennessee.

Tennessee leaders know what will happen for about the next six years with federal funding covering an expansion of TennCare totally in the first three years and 90 percent in the next three years.

Maybe this is a better option considering the yearly arrival of new health care plans usually with higher premiums that is a yearly ritual for many of us.

But like the latest chapter known as the fiscal cliff demonstrates – it falls short. We need a solution.

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