The national debt already amounts to more than $50,000 for every American. The shaky economy could plunge into a new recession if taxes go up at the first of the year. Families could see their paychecks shrink. And programs throughout the federal government will take a whack from automatic spending cuts that go into effect if Congress and the White House can't reach a "fiscal cliff" deal.
That means it's time to self-medicate with a dose of laughter.
Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert joked that on New Year's Eve, "you can kiss your date - and you can kiss our economy goodbye." Sequestration, the wonk-speak name for the budget cuts, "at first sounds like rationing the amount you can watch 'Sea Quest,'" he said. "But it's even worse than that. Sequestration is automatic spending cuts that both sides agree would trigger a new recession. It's like Congress put a gun to the economy's head and swore it will pull the trigger if Congress doesn't put its own gun down."
Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Alan Simpson, who led a deadly serious commission that proposed major tax and spending changes to solve the deficit problem, have been barnstorming with a semi-comedic routine. The Washington Post's Dana Milbank reported Simpson's dissection of the meaning of naked tax increases.
"If you're naked, you don't have any clothes on," he explained, "but if you're nekkid, you don't have any clothes on but you're up to something."
MRCTV's Dan Joseph was up to something when he went out and interviewed random people to see if they knew what the fiscal cliff was.
He unhelpfully told one clueless person that the cliff "is beautiful this time of year."
Author Renee Fisher offered some tongue-in-cheek Q&As in the Washington Examiner, including:
Q. If we go over this so-called cliff, what happens?
Depending on who you are, this will result in either a short recession or all out nuclear war waged by aliens who have really bad body odor."
For a little beach music to go with the fiscal comedy, Merle Hazard (not to be confused with Merle Haggard) has a cartoon and song called "Fiscal Cliff' that describes it as "where grown men go when budgets are blown."
And of course The Onion ("America's Finest News Source") has weighed in, satirically, too.