Friday, February 19, 2010

Dealing With the Deficit - One Suggestion

I've heard in the news that President Obama has appointed a bipartisan committee to look into reducing the budget deficit. This, I feel, is a crucial task which must be dealt with effectively and decisively if we are to ensure the long-term survival of our national economy. If we continue with high levels of deficit spending, we will need to keep borrowing from other countries (i.e., China) and pay them back with interest. While I make no apologies for the fact I think government spending on projects designed to help people is a good thing, we must bear in mind that if the interest payments continue to grow, that money going toward these ever-increasing interest payments will then be unavailable for other purposes.

Reducing the deficit is simple: in theory. It can be achieved by raising taxes and cutting spending. Thing is, neither of these is popular and neither is the type of thing that will increase a politician's chances of re-election. But the cold fact is the deficit needs to be brought under control in the short term in order for us to achieve the economic stability to achieve longer term goals. Rather than keep borrowing from our grandchildren, (to say nothing of the Chinese) I think we will need to sacrifice now in order to create the conditions in which our grandchildren can utilize government as a means of improving their quality of life.

We will need to come to the realization that hard and unpopular choices will need to be made in dealing with the situation. President Obama has reportedly said that in dealing with the the deficit, "everything will be on the table". That is as it should be. As a progressive-type, cutting spending on programs isn't something I like to think about. But the fact is this situation is so serious that it must be dealt with in a coldly rational, unflinching and adult manner.

I do have one suggestion, though, which I think will be worth considering. It is a compromise which will be painful for both sides of the political spectrum, but will - I feel - be ultimately necessary if we are to achieve fiscal stability. Here's the deal: liberals like myself don't like cutting programs. Conservatives don't like raising taxes. The hard reality of the situation is both will need to happen if we are to get the deficit under control. I therefore propose that for the amount of cuts that are made in government spending, there should be an equivalent amount of tax increases. In other words, for each million dollars that is cut in spending, there should also be a million dollars in tax increases. That way, both sides of the political spectrum will share in the sacrifice. I would hope the budgets cuts and tax increases will be wisely administered (such that the program cuts will not disproportionately affect those who need them the most and that the tax increases will primarily affect those who can most readily afford them) so that the negative effects on the average citizen will be kept to a minimum, but the key, I feel, is that BOTH will need to be done if we are to achieve financial stability.

The teabaggers will hate the tax increases. People like me will hate the cuts in government programs. That's too bad. This is a problem so serious we must all make realistic sacrifices. Only if we control the deficit will we be able to ensure the stable financial foundation we will need for our nation's future.

But BOTH sides will need to give up things important to them. If we do not agree to share the sacrifices brought about by tax increases and budget cuts we will inevitably share in the financial disaster that awaits those who refuse to compromise.

And that's why I am willing to compromise on government spending if the conservatives are willing to compromise on tax increases. But BOTH must happen... and in equal proportions.

It's the least we can do for our grandchildren.

1 comment:

  1. "I do have one suggestion..."

    I have a better one. One serving of ketchup equals one serving of vegetables. Deficit problem solved!