It is that bountifully hopeful time of year when Americans everywhere vow to do better. We make New Year's resolutions to eat healthier food, exercise more and spend less money. We vow to be better husbands and wives, have more patience with our children and be more charitable to those in need around us.
Even when optimism and good intentions eventually give way to reality and old habits, we are better for having started off well. We are better for having dreamed of noble goals and fought to achieve them. And, with every passing year, we just might get a little closer and closer to that better person we want to be.
It is also that time of year when we are reminded once again of what an intractable disaster our political process has become. Congress and the White House have so utterly disgraced themselves and this country over the past few years it seemed impossible for them to do any worse.
Yet here we are, facing a massive tax-hike time bomb that was set by them 10 years ago — a bomb which today will destroy any hopes of an economic recovery — and these people manage to reach new levels of stupidity, recklessness, dishonesty and unfairness.
The bill to avert the "fiscal cliff" was supposed to reduce the deficit. Heralded by President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden, the bill overwhelmingly passed the Democrat-controlled Senate.
Later, we learn, the bill doesn't exactly reduce the deficit. According to the Congressional Budget Office, it adds to the deficit to the tune of $4 trillion over 10 years.
And since we are completely broke and politicians are borrowing from places like China more than 40 cents on every dollar they spend right now, this legislation also was supposed to cut spending. And — glory hallelujah! — the bill contains about $25 billion in spending cuts.
But then we find out that no good deed around here goes unattended by a thieving disaster: Like the plan's bogus deficit reduction, the spending cuts in the bill actually amount to more than $300 billion in — not cuts — but entirely new spending!
And then, on top of all that, the clowns also agreed to suspend the previously agreed-to spending cuts contained in another bill for two months!
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I realize this sounds too bad to be true. Nobody could possibly be so reckless and irresponsible and dishonest, but what I write here is all accurate.
These politicians have been strung out from their addiction to wildly spending our money, racking up unpayable debts and raiding our retirement funds for so long that they simply cannot come to grips that they really are out of money. The game is over. The music has stopped playing and there are no chairs left. They are now in denial and will do whatever it takes to keep up the charade that they still have money they can spend and that they are somehow still worthy of the responsibility.
They may yet avert the fiscal cliff, but they have simply turned toward a fiscal abyss. Maybe we should reconsider our New Year's resolutions and make a vow to throw them out the next chance we get.
• Charles Hurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.