Cutting Through The Crap

Monday, June 27, 2011

Reasonable


While we've been having an "I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I" discussion about budget issues here, Brian Baird, a former Democratic Congressman from my state was working on an opinion piece which was published yesterday in our local paper. The outlines of his solutions are exactly what I -- along with every thoughtful politician, economist, and blogger (which, sadly, excludes a few Ds but the entire panoply of teabaggRs) -- have been saying forever:
... Whether the challenge is energy, health care, national security, education or the economy, when our nation is in serious trouble every American needs to ask, "How can I help?"...
... More Americans now recognize our national debt as a problem, but when asked if they are willing to do something personally to lower that debt, either through reducing entitlements or paying higher taxes, the answer quickly becomes "No. Let someone else deal with it." This duality is now playing out in potentially damaging form in the context of pending votes to raise the debt limit.

Here is the honest truth: We must lower deficits and reduce our debt, but it will require reduced government services, stronger economic growth and higher taxes. ...
To understand why, consider that of all the government spending in a year, about two-thirds goes to the big entitlement programs -- Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. ...

Close the national parks; stop the wars; terminate all military activity or spending anywhere on earth; don't pay our troops; close the Everett home port, Whidbey Island air station, Bremerton, Bangor, and Joint Base Lewis McChord; stop the Boeing tanker along with all other weapons programs; open the borders; close the veterans hospitals; terminate all federally funded highway, dam, levee and other construction; cancel all federal emergency and disaster relief; end the space program; close the federal prisons; stop all foreign aid; eliminate federal health and science research; terminate federal education grants, loans and scholarships.

Even if we zero out all that and more, spending would still exceed revenues and our debt would continue to grow.

Several years ago I suggested to a colleague that both political parties should remember the scene in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" when the pair has no choice but to jump off a high cliff together into a raging river below...

My colleague's response was telling. "No," he said, "I think we'd rather just watch you jump off the cliff by yourself."...

...If we are serious about reducing the deficit, everyone has to be part of the effort, which means everyone, at all income levels, should contribute more in taxes. When Republicans say no one should pay higher taxes and there should be further cuts for the wealthy, they cannot honestly claim to be serious about the deficit. President Obama and the Democrats are only slightly less disingenuous when they propose raising rates only on those making more than $250,000 per year. ...

Among his solutions is doing away with the entire tax system and replacing it with a "simplified, graduated national sales tax." I guess it would depend on how it's graduated: I've always thought sales taxes are much harder on the less wealthy. But that's not the point.

The point is that as it is, we're getting nowhere. And whereas it's true that Ds are not guiltless, as I've said many times, it's Congressional Rs that are the most unwilling to give anywhere, on anything. And they don't even try to hide it. Moreover, they justify their intransigence with lies.

Brian Baird quit Congress in his prime. Given what he'd been up against, it's not hard to imagine why.


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