Seeking a “Grand Bargain”


My wife is breathing a sigh of relief. With the election over, she’s looking forward to getting some things done around the house. Which means, I’ve got a lot to do.

Instead of obsessively keeping one eye on the cable news channels and the other on the Internet for clues on the race for the White House, I’m going to be up on the roof soon, patching a hole Superstorm Sandy opened and hauling away all the tree limbs its howling winds tore down.

But a resolution to the election doesn’t mean my addiction to politics is going into remission.

The high drama in Washington, D.C. isn’t over. President Obama may be back in the White House for another four years, but it’s not likely that he will be able to bask in his victory for long.

That’s because Congress is heading back into a lame-duck session on Tuesday. And, its main order of business is the so-called fiscal cliff.

The fiscal cliff is the package of spending cuts and tax increases that are scheduled to start going into effect in January. It amounts to billions of dollars and includes automatic reductions in Pentagon and other agency spending. The expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts and other tax issues are also hanging in the balance.

The deadlines to take action on them come together at the end of the year, making for a perfect storm.

If nothing is done to head it off, there’s fear that such a shock to an already halting economy could plunge the country into another recession.

It didn’t take long for investors to show their nervousness. Just a day after the elections, stocks tumbled.

So, in the coming weeks, President Obama and the Democrats, who padded their Senate majority as a result of the election, will be seeking common ground with Republicans, who still control the House.

Whether they will be able to come to an agreement on what’s being called a “grand bargain” remains to be seen. It has been elusive, so far. And, so has a similar bargain at my house.

A tit-for-tat with our middle school daughter started when I finally got annoyed enough to do something about the stuff she leaves around the house. On any given day her homework can be found strewn all over our coffee table, the shoes she kicked off are generally beneath it and her jacket on the floor where she dumped it.

Nagging her hasn’t worked. So, I took matters into my own hands a couple of weeks ago and started dumping her things in a heap on her bed.

Unfortunately for me, our daughter is a quick study. After a few nights of being forced to clear off her bed just to sleep comfortably, she got her revenge.

When I came home the other day, I noticed my laptop was not where I usually leave it on the table beside my favorite chair. I found it on my bed, along with my reading glasses, the book I’ve been absorbed in, the hat I left hanging on the rocking chair, and assorted other items such as the loose change I left on the kitchen counter and the newspaper I’d been thumbing through.

And then, I heard giggling coming down the hall.

Like Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill, my daughter and I are now locked in a game of brinksmanship and only time will tell which one of us blinks first.

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