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 - Get Report) 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 - Get Report) and Bank of America (BAC - Get Report) charging ever higher, even as they are so far behind the market that they could go up very big from here without stretched valuations.