Thursday, July 14, 2011

It is a Crisis of Political Maturity, not a Fiscal Crisis

The Republicans do not care about the budget deficit or the national debt, they only care about their precious Bush Tax Cuts. How else to explain this report that Eric Cantor (House Majority Leader) will only agree to close tax loopholes if offset by tax cuts. The GOP would rather default than raise taxes precluding any bipartisan agreement to tackle the debt.

The childish behavior of the GOP appears to amount to political suicide, as only 20% of Americans and 26% of the GOP base supports their illogical obstinance to tax hikes. The GOP appears deaf to a slew of polls suggesting that Americans want the debt impasse resolved through a mixture of tax hikes and spending cuts. If the GOP insists on a debt default in defense of their tax cuts it will ruin their party for decades to come, as Sen. Mitch McConnell keeps trying to communicate to the fanatical wing of the party.

There are many obvious solutions to our long-term debt problem. According to the Financial Times if we had allowed the Bush Tax Cuts to expire we would have saved $9 trillion through 2024--proving that the largest problem with the debt is the Bush Tax Cuts. Raising the retirement age to 67 right away (then gradually to 68) while adjusting the cost of living increases saves $900 billion from Social Security and $300 billion from Medicare. Accelerating our withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan saves $1.229 trillion. Elimination of farm and ethanol subsidies saves $500 billion. Attacking global warming through a carbon tax and a ten cent per gallon gasoline tax would raise another $1.154 trillion. This package of cuts and tax increases reduces the deficit by 75% under the Financial Times approach. The New York Times has a budget calculator that yields very similar results, as does the Center for Economic Research and Policy.

But they all take the same position: it is very difficult to solve the long-term debt problem without any tax increases at all. Our leaders should be negotiating a package of spending and tax measures to address our fiscal position, not threatening default by using the debt ceiling for leverage to jam an ideological agenda down the throats of the American people. I question whether the GOP has the maturity to understand they are playing with economic fire.

1 comment:

  1. I disagree with your proposal of raising the retirement age and eligibilty age for SS and Medicare. SS is self funded and does not add to the debt. Medicare should be turned into a Medicare For All or Public Option program, and if done we would then see real savings across the board in national healthcare costs.

    Combining the ADA and the AMA as well as including the mouth (dental care) in with the public option would decrease our costs greatly, too. Many people do not realize how many of us are using the emergency rooms of this country as palliative care for dental pain. It is time for the mouth to be considered as part of the body and it is ridiculous that this has never been addressed.