Now, what makes me reluctant to be as concerned as others are right now about the pending vitriolic battle over the debt ceiling?
First, I know there are plenty of other people who can worry about it, so I don't have to do it. I worry about what very few are worried about, not what every other talking head -- and I acknowledge I am one -- is fretting over, because problems that are thought about in advance have a way to be resolved.
Second, I was far more concerned about what individual tax rates would be than I am about the coming battle about spending. I want to see Social Security ages pushed back for people in their 30s, and I want to see people pay more for Medicare, and I want to see some creative ways to raise money, including a tax on goods that come from polluting countries that dump their goods here. But all of these are secondary to the big cliff we just avoided. And I suspect the president might invoke the 14th Amendment to ignore the debt-ceiling limit and argue that the federal government's bills must be paid. There is a strong constitutional argument in favor of this stance, even as I want to see spending reined in very badly.
Third, I keep thinking what has happened each time we have been blinded by Washington, and it is definitely a blinding influence. We miss what is happening around the globe, which is a first-class recovery and a rather remarkable one at that, something that my Action Alerts PLUS charitable trust, which beat the S&P this year, has been investing in.We miss the wave of mergers and acquisitions that I now believe can happen with the cliff avoidance. Don't you wish you owned the rental car companies today, as pricing just got even better now that Avis Budget Group (CAR) bought lowly Zipcar (ZIP) for $500 million? We miss the big-bank stock rally that dominated the fourth quarter and is continuing today, with worst-to-first names like Citigroup (C) and Bank of America (BAC) charging ever higher, even as they are so far behind the market that they could go up very big from here without stretched valuations.
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