It really just shouldn't be this hard.
It's the 11th hour and Washington is still trying to figure out how to avert the fiscal cliff.
Democrats blame the Republicans; Republicans blame the Democrats. President Obama gives speeches on the hustings. House Speaker Boehner holds press conferences. Interest groups launch ad campaigns with one of two messages: «Don't you dare raise taxes! or » Don't you dare cut Medicare and Social Security!"
All with T-minus two-and-a-half weeks before $7 trillion in tax increases and spending cuts start to take effect.
Of course, none of what's happening is surprising.
The fiscal cliff is a Washington-made mess that is rooted in a broader dysfunction over fiscal policy.
The biggest parts of the fiscal cliff are roughly $400 billion in tax increases.
Why are taxes going up? Primarily because more than a decade's worth of «temporary» tax cuts and one-year tax «fixes» are expiring. These are measures that lawmakers passed, then renewed time and again.
No one really believed the tax cuts were temporary. But by categorizing them as such, lawmakers made them look less expensive and easier to pay for.