Monday, July 11, 2011

Do you like peas? - UPDATED

President Obama, speaking of the rapidly approaching expiration of the government's ability to borrow, said that it is time to act, "Pull off the bandage, eat our peas." Interestingly, he said all leaders -- presumably the members of congress involved in the negotiations -- agree that default on the debt is not an option. The President also talked about shared sacrifice, and said that he would not kick the can down the road by signing a short-term deal to raise the debt ceiling.

The ball is in the Republicans' court. Are they capable of leading? Or are they slaves to a failed idea?

Part of a long term solution to the debt crisis is to increase revenue. Personal and corporate tax rates are at historical lows, yet we have a floundering economy. To begin, revenues could be increased without raising taxes by simply eliminating the Bush tax cuts. And let's shore-up social security by raising the social security wage cap. Some people and some corporations aren't paying their fair share.

It's time, too, for Germany and Japan to start paying their fair share of their own defense costs. Our troops there are large, expensive vestiges of the occupation armies of a war that ended more than sixty years ago. South Korea, where a lot of troops are also stationed, is also capable of paying its fair share. Winding-down -- completely -- the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would also reduce the need to borrow.

Those are my ideas. Others may have areas of spending that they would prefer to see cut, or may know of other ways to increase revenues. But let's share the burden fairly by requiring those with the ability to pay to pay their fair share, and let's face facts: a deficit is caused by a shortfall in revenues and excessive spending, and any "plan" that ignores either of those sides of the equation is doomed to failure.

Update: There is an interesting Wall Street Journal article that looks at the President's strategy. The article sums up, "[Obama's] talking points practically write themselves: I offered three dollars in spending cuts for every dollar in tax increases, and Republicans turned me down. Because Republican leaders wouldn't accept any tax increases, everybody will pay more for Medicare and Social Security and get less in benefits down the road."

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