THE FISCAL CLIFF
Politicians, newspapers, (and cartoonists) have warned for months about a 'fiscal cliff' (in fact, this cartoon dates back to July). But what is the fiscal cliff? What could happen if the U.S. goes over the cliff? Investopedia gives this definition:
A combination of expiring tax cuts and across-the-board government spending cuts scheduled to become effective Dec. 31, 2012. The idea behind the fiscal cliff was that if the federal government allowed these two events to proceed as planned, they would have a detrimental effect on an already shaky economy, perhaps sending it back into an official recession as it cut household incomes, increased unemployment rates and undermined consumer and investor confidence.
Now, if America is to avoid going over the fiscal cliff, members of the US Houses of Congress will have to agree on a new budget settlement in the coming weeks. However, as The Independent points out:
America's political elite have shown precious little appetite for bipartisan negotiation over the past four years. Yet the looming fiscal cliff demands urgent co-operation.
The signs are that the U.S. could be heading for an economic disaster.
The inspiration for the cartoon is the famous final scene from Ridley Scott's 1991 road movie Thelma and Louise in which the eponymous heroines drive off a cliff to escape being captured by the police. In Michael Ramirez's version, Uncle Sam is the passenger as the Republican elephant and the Democrat donkey argue about who should be driving the car. The message is clear: unless the two parties come to an agreement over the fiscal cliff, the American people will suffer the consequences.
The 'standing on the edge of a cliff' or 'going off a cliff' metaphor is often used by journalists and cartoonists to evoke an impending disaster. See here and here for earlier cartoon examples from this blog.
• Everything You Need to Know About the Fiscal Cliff - video (Wall Street Journal)
• Fiscal Cliff - Cagle Post cartoon collection
• Countdown to 'fiscal cliff' - video (BBC News)
• What is the Fiscal Cliff? (About.com)
• Fiscal Cliff (Investopedia)
• The Fiscal Cliff Opener (International Herald Tribune)
• Never mind Obama, can the House of Congress avert a fiscal catastrophe in the coming weeks? (The Independent on Sunday)