Eugene Robinson definitely gets the Quote of the Day:
But as I recall, our elected officials did agree on something: That the Bush tax cuts, the payroll tax cut and other measures would expire in January, and that huge and unprecedented budget cuts, especially in defense spending, would take effect. The fiscal cliff wasn't formed by plate tectonics or volcanic eruptions. It was made by Congress and the president.
So really, how seriously are we supposed to take the warnings of doom coming from Capitol Hill and the White House? If Congress didn't want taxes to go way up and spending to go way down, why did it pass legislation ensuring these things would happen? And why did Obama sign those bills into law if they're such a guarantee of unmitigated disaster?
The quick answer to his question, even though the question seems to be rhetorical, is that a bunch of partisan politicians, namely Barack Obama, House and Senate Republicans and House and Senate Democrats. had a dead line, couldn't come to an agreement by that deadline, so in all their brilliance, they postponed it all with a temporary deal that offered up... yup, you got it... another dead line, where if the very same people that couldn't come to an agreement before were supposed to come to an agreement or very steep spending cuts and tax increases would automatically come into effect.
Their idiotic logic being if those automatic cuts were brutal and unacceptable to both parties then those very same partisans would be forced to come to an agreement.
Here is one observation about the fiscal cliff that is based not on guesswork but on empirical fact: The politicians who brought us to this precipice are the same politicians we're counting on to keep us from tumbling into the void. Which suggests to me that if you've got a parachute, now might be a good time to strap it on.
Fly Baby, Fly.