Preserving the status quo costs more than ever
Now that the votes have been counted, the balance of power in Washington is pretty much unchanged. Voters returned President Obama to the White House, reaffirmed Republican control of the House and kept the Senate in Democratic hands.
Most of the incumbents in Congress were re-elected. And the Electoral College vote was almost identical to four years ago (except for Indiana and North Carolina, which reverted back to their GOP roots).
These outcomes are not exactly good news for long-term care operators, who are on the hook for a 2% Medicare funding reduction that begins in less than two months. And need we be reminded of the long-term prospects for Medicare, Social Security and other social programs?
So where did those billions of dollars go? Oh, here and there. By some estimates, they helped pay for more than a million ads on TV, radio, newspapers and other media outlets. And what did the ads teach us? Mostly that neither side has a monopoly on scruples-averse politicians.
That's all bad enough. What's even worse is that it feels like we're right back where we were before the campaign season kicked off. Democrats and Republicans still seem more concerned about talking points than problem solving.
Take the looming fiscal cliff. Again, the same worn out kabuki dance is being trotted out. GOP lawmakers say they are willing to compromise, except for raising taxes and pinching the wealthy. The Democrats are similarly willing to negotiate, except that they insist that more taxes on the wealthy will be necessary.
That's all well and good as far as playing to one's base is concerned. But here's the deal: Our nation is slowly but steadily going broke. We can't keep writing IOUs forever.
It's easy to blame the other goofs. In reality, both sides have done things they have no reason to be bragging to their grandchildren about. I don't pretend to have the answers here. But I'm pretty sure that spending $6 billion to keep things the way they are is hardly a good start.