MORRIS: After many positives in 2012, let’s avoid 'cliff'

December 29, 2012

MorrisPut another year in the history books. It’s time for reflection and a look ahead to the new year. I went back and looked at my column written this time last year—“From politics to hoops, my 2012 wish list”—and I would say the results were mostly positive, with one big exception.

I was tired of the “occupy movement” in 2011 and expressed my desire to hear less about that topic in 2012. The national media loved this story, but not even they could keep it going. I’ll put this one in the win column.

I talked about my desire for a serious contender who could upset our incumbent president. Obviously, that didn’t happen. However, the election was closer than most would have predicted a year ago, and President Obama’s re-election win certainly wasn’t the mandate he continues to say he has.

Yes, the electoral count was a runaway, but the popular vote was split 51 percent to 49 percent. I’ll give the president his due. It was a solid win. But rather than representing a mandate, what it really showed is that we continue to be a deeply divided country. This one is most definitely in the loss column for 2012. A big loss.

I wanted the stock market to stabilize in 2012. I lamented the decade of lost opportunity for my 401(k), and I was considering cashing out and heading to Vegas to see if I could do better.

Well, the market had a darn good year. With a few days left in 2012, the Dow was up 7 percent, the S&P 500 was up 13 percent, and the NASDAQ up 15 percent. That’s an excellent result considering all the uncertainty we had throughout the year. We’ll put this one in the win category.

I wished for success for Indiana University basketball, the Indiana Pacers and the Indianapolis Colts. All three came through the year with flying colors, well beyond my expectations. I should have added the University of Notre Dame football to the mix. The Irish are 12-0 and will play 12-1 Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game Jan. 7.

That should be an awesome matchup. Go Irish. I know there were many sports accomplishments (including the Indiana Fever’s WNBA championship and the Marian University Knights’ NAIA football championship) that are too numerous to highlight here. And let’s not forget Indianapolis’ widely acclaimed hosting of the Super Bowl in February. All that and more put sports in the win column for 2012 in a big way.

After watching Indiana House Democrats in 2011 set up headquarters-in-exile in Urbana, Ill., to protest right-to-work legislation, I suggested that members of the General Assembly avoid going to Illinois for any reason in 2012. I can’t verify who went to Illinois when and for what reason, but I can report that any time away was much less visible (and controversial) than the year before. We’ll call this a win.

So, what’s on the list for 2013? At this point, I have only one item—a very important one. At press time, we had no deal for the so-called fiscal cliff. Just before Christmas, House Republicans couldn’t even agree on a stop-gap measure to raise taxes on those making $1 million or more and to give the other 98 percent of folks a break with no tax increase. Really? Are you kidding me? You can’t even get that on the table for a vote?

Meanwhile, Obama talks about his “mandate” every time he speaks. He relentlessly points out that he ran on the platform of raising taxes on those greedy, wealthiest Americans making $250,000 or more per year.

At the same time, he doesn’t appear concerned about spending us into oblivion, which is why the Republicans are dug in. I’ll say it again. An election victory of 2 percentage points is no mandate.

Without compromise from both sides and without a meaningful long-term deal that balances increased tax revenue with cuts in spending, little good can happen in 2013. So, my sole wish is a big one. To our elected officials in Washington, please make a deal very soon. A successful 2013 depends on your expeditious and responsible action.

Here’s a new year’s toast to a successful 2013!•


Morris is publisher of IBJ. His column appears every other week. To comment on this column, send an e-mail to gmorris@ibj.com.


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