Thursday, December 2, 2010

What We Know

Here's what we know about the budget deficit, here called the "deficit", and the national debt, here called the "debt", despite all the rhetoric to the contrary.

First, you can't reduce the deficit, and subsequently the national debt, with spending cuts, namely the budget of the non-discretionary and non-military agencies. The remaining federal budget after these is a less than 15% of the whole federal budget. You could totally eliminate it and still not touch both the deficit and debt.

Second, you can't reduce the deficit without significant changes in the non-discretionary programs, namely Social Security (SS), Medicare, and Medicaid to states. And you have to make significant cuts in the Defense Department budget for both operations, including both current wars and our international locations, and equipment programs, meaning all the new and replacement equipment of all the branches of the military.

The problem here is that the government has those obligations to the people of this country and to our international commitment in two wars and overseas bases. And the military has to replace current aging and damaged equipment from those two wars and normal use. The question, however, is if we really need new weapons programs, because we're clearly spending orders of magnitude (10x) more than our enemies and more than the rest of the world combined.

Third, you can't reduce the deficit with tax cuts or even tax increases. The debt this year is about $4,700 per person and the debt with this year's deficit is about $50,000 per person in this country. That's PER PERSON and 3 to 4 times for every family in this country. That's the reality of the depth of the problem we're facing. Cutting taxes, like extending the Bush and Obama tax cuts, clearly isn't the answer as it only adds to the problem.

This was a little simple math, and I'm astounded the politicians, from the President to Congress, haven't raised this point to show where we have put ourselves being deaf and blind to the reality of deficit spending over decades. And make no mistake here. it is the Republicans who have increased both several times more than the Democrats. The Democrats aren't the worst bad guys here, but Reagan and GW Bush's 8-year administrations that increased the debt the most.

We've been overspending on the government's credit to the point we can't dig our way out of the deficit and debt with going on a really big austerity program for a long time, generations in fact. Unfortunately the Debt Commission tried to address this issue and failed, putting the bulk on of burdent on middle class and income families, on the young and their future, and on the elderly on fixed incomes none of whom can afford it.

There is no question we have to resolve the deficit and work on the debt. The interest alone is almost as much as the whole non-discretionary spending excluding the Defense Department. This is the reality of the situation we're facing as a people and country, all of us. The question is what are the short-term and longterm solutions which is fair and just.

And that the Debt Commission did provide all-encompassing solution, but some of those are outside the scope of their direction and purview. They wandered and lost sight of the problem and then the solution. Cutting taxes aren't the answer. Cutting benefits doesn't help much and only hurts people. The questions we have to ask ourselves is how much we owe our government in these tough economic times.

Personally I don't have an answer. I too have used the Bush and Obama tax cuts to live. Like most Americans I have little choice in the matter but to pay the costs of living today in this country. Taking away over $100 per month if the tax cuts expired would hurt, not that I won't live, but that I won't improve my life and pay off my own debt.

What I do know is that near the end of my life, I can simply ignore it and push for keeping my tax cuts and leave the mess to the future generations, and say, "Thanks for all the fish." (Douglas Adams). But I can't and I won't. I would accept my tax increase if everyone else accepted theirs fairly and proporationately.

We are in a financial boat for the survival of our (stress our) government and our country. It's time everyone bite the bullet and commit to their fair share as we can relieve some of the burden of our youth and future generations. It's time we did and it's time the President, especially him, and Congress do likewise,including their own salary and staff costs.

We're all in the same boat no matter who says otherwise. We need corporations to return their tax headquarters to the US and pay their fair share, which would amount to a significant help. It's not something the people can do while corporations skip their obligations and escape with the profits hidden beyond our tax laws. They identify as American companies, it's time they paid like American companies.

That's what I think. It's time to be fair and just for all, people and corporations, and even consider non-profit organizations and established religions anteing up for all the years of tax-free living here at our expense. We know they're not poor and it's time they stopped hiding behind tax exclusions.

But in the end, I don't expect anything real to be done. The Republicans are out for themselves, the corporations and the rich, and the Democrats are too afraid to raise the reality and truth to their constituents. But they also know we can't keep punting this issue to the next Congress and the next and the next. It won't go away and only gets worse. They know that, so it's time they are honest too.

It's time the President above all of us, stand up and speak common sense and wisdom to face the issue and face the solutions. It's why he's the President. And I haven't heard that from him, plain, honest words describing the real mess and the real solutions, politics aside.

And until I do hear that I'll raise my own small voice expecting him to do likewise. And if he doesn't, consider someone else to be President who will.

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