A bipartisan consensus to curb deficit spending and alter pending automatic tax hikes and spending cuts is crucial to America's future.
Wednesday, the day after Election Day, there were signs that could happen.
Vice President Joe Biden told reporters he and President Barack Obama are willing to work on a compromise solution. John Boehner, speaker of the Republican-controlled House, also sounded willing to reach a deal regarding the tax increases and automatic government spending cuts to kick in this year if Congress does not stop them.
The term "fiscal cliff " may sound overly dramatic, but the so-called sequestration has something for everyone to loath:
Bush-era tax cuts on income, investments, married couples and families with children and inheritances would expire.
A $55 billion reduction in the Pentagon budget next year plus $55 billion in cuts to domestic programs, including a 2-percent cut to Medicare providers.
The loss of unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless and a drop in reimbursements for doctors participating in Medicare.
The expiration of a temporary 2-percentage point cut in payroll taxes.
The expansion of the alternative minimum tax to 26 million households, whose taxes would increase by an average of $3,700.
However, the distasteful nature of looming changes may compel action. The pending lame duck session of Congress may prove to be productive.
We hope so. Because it would just be a start. Much more work would have to be done. The White House and Congress must act to stop the $16 trillion national debt from ballooning further. The future of our nation depends on balancing the budget and paying down the debt.