Americans have notoriously short memories, but it was only 18 months ago that Congress created the unstoppable scythe that would automatically raise taxes and cut spending if members couldn’t come up with $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction on their own. This was it, remember? The sword of Damocles, the doomsday clock, the nuclear option that was going to force Washington’s hand at last. There was talk of major cuts to military spending, an end to tax loopholes — possibly even the home mortgage deduction — and tough medicine for all.
But as the brinkmanship, the blather, and breathless media countdown subsided earlier this week, we were left with a yawning missed opportunity to address income inequality and the federal debt with anything approaching shared sacrifice. Call it the fiscal whiff.