Work must continue beyond tax agreement

Greg Morris
Greg Morris

By Greg Morris
IBJ Media

Happy New Year and greetings from southwest Florida.

The sun is shining brightly, and the temperature is expected to reach 80 degrees – the warmest spot in the nation as I write. Not bad for the first few days of January.

Every year at this time my wife, our two West Highland white terriers, and I hit the road to escape the frigid Indiana winter for a few weeks of detox from the rigors of a tough daily grind.

The travel gods tried to dissuade us from making our annual trek south by throwing a mini blizzard into the mix the day after Christmas along with many traffic backups en route.

All of this resulted in a delayed start to our trip and a total drive time of 25 hours. However, we persevered, and I feel the rejuvenating power of the sun along with the slower lifestyle of the South replenishing my mental and physical strength.

In keeping with the sun is shining theme, our friends in Washington finally agreed on something.

The nation averted most of the tax portion of the “fiscal cliff” crisis with an agreement. Even though lawmakers were a bit past the deadline, the arrangement was a big positive.

I know a lot can happen by the time you read this, but by 11 a.m. Jan. 2, stocks were up 2 percent and the Dow Jones was up 250 points.

A sense of some certainty coupled with a steady dose of positive economic news would certainly benefit all of us in 2013.

I think we’re all painfully aware that we have a few more big fights in Washington coming up in the near future.

They kicked the can down the road a few months in the spending-cut area of the fiscal cliff.

The debt ceiling crisis coming in February could pull our current good feeling right out from under us.

You can count on a lot of folks in both the Senate and the House getting all lathered up to draw a line in the sand on spending cuts.

I’m sure many of these legislators swallowed hard on the current deal to live to fight another day on spending cuts. This one is sure to be nasty and could make the recent deal look like a cake walk.

Then there’s that pesky budget fight coming a few months after that.

Every year I write a column in the Indianapolis Business Journal regarding my wish list for the upcoming year. I normally review the prior year and recap how things went and then follow with a new list.

However, this year I had but one wish for 2013. A few weeks ago I wrote:

“(W)ithout compromise from both sides and without a meaningful, long-term deal that truly balances increased tax revenues with cuts in spending, very little good can happen in 2013. So I have only one wish this year. To our elected officials in Washington, please make a deal very soon. A successful 2013 depends on your expeditious and responsible action.”

The ongoing fiscal cliff includes the spending-cut portion of this problem.

So we made it past step one. We saved 98 percent of taxpayers from incurring a large tax increase. It was the right thing to do.

Now it’s time to see the spending-cut portion of the plan.

Let’s hope our president and our legislators can work together to resolve the upcoming debt-ceiling crisis and maybe, just maybe, they can actually produce a budget for the first time in four years.

If these things get accomplished, I think we can all have a very good year and feel confident about a much brighter future.

So for now I feel like the sun is shining a bit, even back home in Indiana in January.

To all in the publishing business, I wish you good health and a successful 2013. Your Hoosier State Press Association pledges to continue working hard on your behalf to help you along the way.

Thanks for your investment in HSPA, and here’s to a great year ahead!

Greg Morris, HSPA board of directors president, is presi­­dent of IBJ Media and publisher of Indianapolis Business Journal. His column appears in the first issue of each month.