This cliffhanger shows few signs of a happy ending

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John O'Connor, editorial director, McKnight's Long-Term Care News
John O'Connor, editorial director, McKnight's Long-Term Care News

If you are hoping to learn before the Nov. 6 election whether planned federal budget cuts might be avoided, I have some advice: forget about it.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) just admitted that he and President Obama haven't addressed the looming “fiscal cliff” in more than three months.

Look, I get that the elections are a priority. But must they be the only priority? Let's not forget that as things now stand, a federal “sequestration” scheduled to kick in January 2 will automatically reduce Medicare payments by 2%. All told, the cuts to providers, the military and others are expected to surpass $100 billion.

Such consequences could be fairly severe. On Wednesday, 16 of the nation's largest financial services firms sent a letter to President Obama and Congress warning that interest rates could spike significantly unless the cliff is averted. That's not exactly a good sign for operators hoping to obtain capital any time soon.

Moreover, many economists predict that inaction could push the economy at least into a short recession.

To most observers, those would appear to be pretty big stakes. But Congress and the White House appear to be in no hurry. In fact, Obama officials say the president is prepared to veto any proposal to stop the “fiscal cliff” that does not increase tax rates on the wealthy, a red line that Republicans do not want to cross.

To most of us, this looming economic calamity seems like a pretty big deal. But the people we have elected to help us steer clear of such tragedies are focused on another priority: keeping their jobs.

On Nov. 6, you'll get a chance to let them know your thoughts about such misplaced priorities. FYI, most polling places will open around 6 a.m.


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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.