Is Cliff Diving The Least-Bad Option?

McArdle entertains the idea:

Unless something changes, we’re headed toward one of two uncomfortable places. Either we veer over the fiscal cliff and the economy crashes—or we keep going down the road we’ve been taking for more than a decade, delaying hard choices while assuring voters that no really hard choices need to be made. That road probably ends in an even nastier smashup. “Going over the fiscal cliff puts us into a horrible, self-created, and totally unnecessary recession, but then we come out of it,” says Marc Goldwein, senior policy director of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. On the other hand, “if we keep racking up the debt, we don’t know when the crisis will hit. But historically, it will be fast, and we’ll have to go over a fiscal cliff anyway.” Only by then, the debt will be even larger, and we’ll have even less time to do anything about it.

So maybe the first cliff—the one coming in January—is the lesser of two evils. It just might achieve what white papers and impassioned pleas have so far failed to do: scare some sense into our legislators. Now all we have to do is hope that they pull out of the dive before we all hit bottom.