Robert Samuelson discusses the fiscal cliff in "The deal we need":
The American economy resembles a sick patient who's been put on a powerful drug: budget deficits. If the drug is withdrawn too abruptly, the patient relapses. That's the fiscal cliff. But if the drug is never withdrawn, the patient may face highly toxic side effects. That's a future financial crisis that occurs if lenders refuse to lend at low interest rates. It seems confusing, because it is confusing.The other day on NPR, Senator Patty Murray was asked why negotiations would succeed now when the deficit supercommittee - which she chaired - couldn't reach an agreement. Her answer was that we're much closer to the cliff so action is urgent. I found this to be so depressing. It means that every critical issue is going to be a model of brinkmanship. We're going over the cliff not only because the parties can't agree but because there's no getting around the math anyway.
Curb those deficits -- but not too fast. No one has adequately explained the messy choices to Americans. Not the president. Not major economists. Not congressional leaders.