The fiscal cliff is imminent. We are hurtling, not to mention barreling, toward it. Also, it's looming. Every news organization has been churning out folksy little cartoons explaining the situation at the rate of thousands a day since August. There have also been a lot of Wile E. Coyote jokes, and for that alone we deserve as a people to be bound hand and foot and cast into the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
After failing to persuade their fellow Republicans last week to let taxes rise on income over $1 million, GOP leaders offered no guidance on the shape of a package the House could ultimately accept. "The House will take . . . action on whatever the Senate can pass, but the Senate first must act," the leaders said in a joint statement.
"After you." "No, after you." "Oh, I simply couldn't." "Please." "No, I can't. You first." "I really insist." One thing is certain: if no one in Washington takes swift and immediate action, the following things will absolutely happen.
- An episode of House Hunters will air where the couple can't agree on a house. "But I -" one of them will begin, then fall silent as she realizes with growing horror that she and her husband are no longer speaking the same language, becoming mutually unintelligible and hopelessly isolated.
- All upper-middle class families will become lower-upper-middle class. All lower-middle class families will have to trade health insurance policies with the working poor. The working poor will become the sprinting poor. This will solve the obesity epidemic. They will steal new shoes from the rich. This will solve Toms.
- John Boehner will be forced to attend House sessions in old-timey sad clown makeup. The black-and-white kind, with the sad mouth and the busted hat and the floppy shoes and the empty bindle. A hobo clown. With the worn-out gloves that don't have fingers on them anymore. When he opens his wallet little flies will zoom out to show how empty it is. Same thing happens when he pulls out his pockets.
- They (you know which they I mean, don't get cute) will take away the two-dollar bill, the most charming of all bills.
- George H.W. Bush will not only recover from his latest illness and be released from the hospital, he will declare himself King of Maine and build a lobster army. Not just lobsters. Crabs, too. Crayfish and crawdad sentries. A crustacean bodyguard elite, impervious to pain. The North will become a hissing byword designed to strike fear into urban conservatives.
- Ben Bernanke will be made to sell off all redundant consonants in his name to the staff of Forbes. They will force those letters to do terrible things.
- Newsweek will come back, stronger and more terrifying in its fey power than ever before. Print editions; anthology editions; hardcover editions. Tina Brown will multiply. Her pantsuits will blot out the sun.
- Everyone who has ever written a memoir, no matter how good it may have been, will be forced to dig ditches in a 1930s prison chain gang, in Georgia.
- Defense spending will go up, or possibly down, while also remaining exactly the same, but not in a good way.
- Wal-Mart will acquire all other -Marts, finally completing its stranglehold on the -Mart market.
- The wealthy will sell both Alaska and Hawaii to each other in secret backroom deals, absconding with the profits and the best parts of California.
- All lunches will become free lunches.
- Obama will awaken from a four-day-long nightmare in which he finally learns the importance of leading. He'll start leading. Leading on everything, leading everyone everywhere, all the time leading.
- Taxes will be raised on all households with yearly incomes over $250,000; the minimum wage will be raised to $250,000 and tipping will become mandatory, even at coffee shops (tips must be equal to or greater than $250,000).
- Everyone will get a pony, so in a very real sense no one will get a pony.
- [Image via AP]