OUR OPINION: No Kumbaya in Sight

Filed under: cartoon,Politics |

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Aside from general relief that the two-year-long presidential race is over, expect no coming together of the American people, either in Harrisburg or Washington.

While Democrats maintain their grip on Pennsylvania’s executive offices, Republicans still hold the General Assembly beyond dispute. Two years of gridlock have failed to budge many of the Commonwealth’s pressing problems – chief among which is the pension shortfall, which threatens to drag down most discretionary spending on projects that matter to each Republicans or Democrats in years to come if a solution is not found. That is because if financial markets see that Pennsylvania’s debts are unfunded, they will start charging taxpayers more to carry them. It is hard to see a way out of this dilemma without raising taxes; but equally hard to see the General Assembly voting to do this.

In the end, neither voters nor legislators can have their cake and eat it.

At the national level, we will have a unified one-party government for some time to come. That might make it easier to get things done.

The difficulty here is the same we face in Harrisburg – squared. There is no way to curb entitlement spending enough to compensate for the tax cuts both the president-elect and Congress have promised. A massive round of deficit spending is the likeliest outcome.

Those who manage the economy and foreign affairs will also be buffeted by uncertainty as the world assesses how much of the radical talk it has heard from the United States will actually result in radical action.

Will we respond by unifying ourselves as a nation? We may hope so; but 2016 so far has given us little reason to expect it.

America has feasted on surprises this year. Now let us hope it can muster some steadiness as well in the year to come.

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