Washington (CNN) — You do not have to be an investor in the stock market or real estate or looking for a job to be alarmed when several highly regarded observers warn that the United States economy is about to be driven “off the cliff” by increasing debt, the expiration of tax cuts and the prospect of deep spending cuts.
The alarm should concern anyone who cares about our democratic system.
The reason we are getting awfully close to the edge is because the Democrats and Republicans are inclined to pull the steering wheel in opposite directions. Granted, alarms are often sounded, but as we shall see shortly, this time there are strong reasons to fear that our gridlocked political system will prevent us from responding before we go over the edge.
The most authoritative voice speaking out this time is that of Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve. He stated recently that, “It is very important to say that if no action were to be taken by the fiscal authorities, the size of the fiscal cliff is such that there is, I think, absolutely no chance that the Federal Reserve could or would have any ability whatsoever to offset that effect on the economy.”