Obama heads to Asia while Congress handles the fiscal cliff

posted at 9:41 am on November 9, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

We have 52 days, according to the New York Post, to avoid the “fiscal cliff” and the consequences of last year’s budget deal.  Businesses will prepare layoff notices to deal with the consequences of sequestration.  Thanks to the complexity of the negotiations and the number of people involved, the leaders of both parties will have to work full time to get a deal in place and passed before the consequences of Taxmageddon push the country into another full-fledged recession.

Well … make that one party.  The leader of the other — the one who just won re-election — will take a tour of Asia first:

President Obama yesterday announced he’s jetting off on a victory lap around Southeast Asia, despite a new government report warning the Jan. 1 fiscal cliff will plunge the US into a recession and drive the unemployment rate up to 9.1 percent.

Obama and Congress have just 52 days to reach a deal to avoid sailing off that precipice, when a devastating double whammy of tax hikes and budget cuts will rock the economy and hit just about every American. …

But those tense negotiations won’t interfere with Obama’s boarding Air Force One for a three-day tour of Bangkok, Rangoon and Phnom Penh.

Along the way, he’ll meet with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to mark 180 years of diplomatic relations, chat with Burmese dissident Aung San Suu Kyi and attend the East Asia Summit in Cambodia. He takes off Nov. 17.

It’s not as if Obama will take off while Congress remains on hiatus, either.  That’s after Congress comes back into session next week, when presumably they’ll be more focused on the coming tax and budget calamity than the East Asia Summit.  This isn’t exactly a shining example of leadership.

But hey, it’s not as though anything bad will happen in a leadership vacuum, right?  Er ….

Meanwhile, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a report highlighting the economic shock that awaits America. The automatic spending cuts and tax increase will shrink the already anemic economy by 0.5 percent and cause the jobless rate to spike to 9.1 percent, the report predicted.

The average American family will pay an extra $2,000 to $3,000 in taxes after all of the Bush-era tax cuts expire Jan. 1, and about 1,200 government programs will experience spending cuts.

It seems to me that we have a State Department and a Secretary of State to attend summits like the one in Cambodia, especially with pressing deadlines on fiscal crises at home.  Obama won his election bid.  Now it’s time to act like a leader at home rather than take victory laps abroad.


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