The Road Not Taken; Deficit Reduction
These words are taken from the preamble to the Simpson-Bowles tax commission report. This brings to discussion a valid point; the greatest moments in American history are the moments our people sacrificed for the greater good. The Revolution, Civil War and freeing of slaves, the progressive reforms for workers’ rights at the turn of the 20th century, the new deal, and both world wars required immense sacrifice on our part for the greater good of other people. The opposite is also true; some of our darkest hours were our most selfish: slavery, forced marches for native Indians, and even the Wall Street financial collapse just years ago to name a few. Facing a $15 trillion debt, our nation must now make another tough sacrifice; unfortunately, selfish politics will not allow it. This week the Simpson-Bowles tax commission went up for a vote in the House, and was defeated 38-382. The 38 brave and honest representatives were comprised of 16 Republicans and 38 Democrats.
The Simpson-Bowles plan was a bi-partisan commission established by President Obama in 2010 to address the nation’s massive deficit problems. In short, the plan called for approximately $4 trillion in spending cuts over the next ten years–spread fairly equally across the board, coupled with $1.2 trillion in new tax revenue. The cuts included all the politically taboo areas; Medicare, Medicaid, social security, and defense. The plan was meant to be a guide to budget proposals. Initially Republicans blasted President Obama for not supporting it, but have since done an about face in support for a much more partisan, much more extreme proposal. Republicans insist that the deficit problem has nothing to do with taxes, despite the fact that our nation is taking in a historically low revenue percentage. Spending, they insist is the only problem. While spending is the largest part of the problem, it is not the only part of the problem. The Republican counter is the budget presented recently by Rep. Paul Ryan. This is an extreme approach that would require sacrifice by only those participating in many government programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid. The proposal is to cut $5.3 trillion from the spending–though his budget barely dents defense spending–largely by putting the guillotine to programs like food stamps, unemployment, and healthcare. This plan is also coupled with $2 trillion in tax cuts, making the deficit cut only a total of $3.2 trillion. To sum it up, not only is the Simpson-Bowles plan more fairly and balanced, it also cuts more from the deficit.
Despite the fact that outside budget experts and economists love the Simpson-Bowles proposal, the GOP refuses to hear it because of the tax increases. Ignore the fact that they initially supported the idea, and Republicans still have a tough argument to make. Tax increases are generally popular in America; even the rich, whom Republicans defend, are willing to pay higher taxes. Look, I get it; the argument that higher taxes will kill jobs and hurt the economy, making it impossible to eliminate our deficit makes sense. It is a perfectly logical argument; however, the logic does not withstand historical precedent. Ronald Regan, whom the right wing so admires, raised taxes in order to help reign in federal debt–and the economy grew. Add to that the fact that the major employers have stated that higher taxes will not necessarily kill jobs and the rug gets pulled from underneath their stance. Political experts believe that President Obama missed his opportunity with Simpson-Bowles by not pressing it when it initially had enough support to pass. His concern, and many of the Democrats at the time, was that the spending cuts were too harsh. The opportunity is passed, and though the window may not be closed for good, with the irrationality of the Republican tax stand, it seems it will not be made law any time soon.
So irrational and unwilling are Republicans to make the sacrifice of higher taxes to couple spending cuts that in this summer’s debt limit circus President Obama actually made two offers to Speaker Boehner that were more right wing than the Simpson-Bowles suggestions. Patriotslog disagrees with much of the media coverage that the Republicans won some sort of political battle by getting what they want–Democrats also got much of what they insisted on–however, it is hard to argue the fact that when one considers this, they do come off with a very irrational and uncompromising odor. Unfortunately, the Super Committee sequel to the debt ceiling comedy showed us that Democrats reek of stubbornness just as heavily as Republicans. Right now is a moment that will define America, and both political parties know it. Each is attempting to win public sentiment that theirs is the correct idea for our nation. The fact is each only wants to do what is popular. Politicians seem to be all too often consumed by the need for power. It would at least be admirable if one political party took a stand and kept it based on a set of beliefs no matter if it was unpopular. That does not happen; each side only stands firm when they believe their stubbornness will bring in votes, there are countless examples of this. If one side takes a stand that turns out to be unpopular, they quietly back down. Now, as much as any point in our lives, we need leaders to make the unpopular decision. Yes, we elect you to represent our wants, but more importantly; our needs. Whether we like it or not we need to implement the Simpson-Bowles plan. Nobody wants higher taxes or cuts to domestic programs; but on this matter what we want is irrelevant. We need to do the hard thing, and be saved from ourselves by making sacrifices before we are picking up the pieces of what is left of our government. At that point everything will be difficult, and what we want will be impossible. Now more than any time in our lives is the time to act for the greater good; now is the time to take the less popular root; now is the time to travel The Road Not Taken.
31 March, 2012
Posted on April 2, 2012, in Patriotslog Articles, Politics, Taxes and tagged budget cuts, business, debt limit, deficit, economic downturn, economy, financial collapse, government, medicaid, medicare, Paul Ryan, politics, President Obama, Simpson Bowles, super committee, tax policy, the road not taken. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.