As a nation, where do we go from here? We have the perpetual unemployment and unrealized recovery staring our nation in the face, we have a two-party cat-fight over who can impress the ultra-wealthy the most, and we have tens of millions of people suffer the worst economic deprivations we ever seen--EVER.
The schools of thought coming out of Washington, D(edicated to)C(corporatism): one demands a continuation of the Bush tax cuts and the other insists on cutting "entitlement" programs. A third alternative is the ideas put forth by the Debt Commission which are advocating a combination of the two.
As far as the tax cuts are concerned, and here you have to have an ear for propaganda, imo, we are talking about CUTS that were initiated under Bush and were part of the cause of our overall calamity. I say because as a taxpayer I would see the $1500 I paid in taxes given back and an additional $2500-4000 added onto my refund. Sure, it was nice to get it, but in my mind it was insane. Why was the government, while posting consistently steep deficits, handing out money to me as if they didn't need it? Of course, the answer is that they were handing out a lot more to the super-rich and this "greasing the wheels", as it were. Call me crazy, but it didn't just seem ridiculous, it seemed dishonest. What we hear from the Republicans is that they want to see these cuts made permanent, especially for the rich.
Then there is the other side of the dime: the call to cut these entitlements like Medicare and Social Security. That these programs are being called entitlements(like, I am entitled to get cake at a birthday party) is another dose of propaganda because it leaves the impression that these are handouts when in reality these are programs that have been paid into by EVERY tax-paying American at some point. I don't see how cutting these benefits does anything more than create another crisis that the government will just need to spend more money to resolve. I agree that the retirement age could go up, and I would understand an increase in Social Security payments from standard weekly deductions, but giving out less than was promised at a time when even what folks have is not enough seems to be a bad idea.
So, my solutions are as follows:
1. I am against extending the tax cuts. I understand that this means a serious rise in what folks would otherwise be paying, but the greatest benefit has been to the super-rich, and if this means regaining even $700-900 billion in annual revenues to offset the horrendous deficits we have been creating, so be it.
2. Cutting Federal spending on any number of programs is a must. It is inconceivable that with a roughly $3.5 trillion budget there can not be ways to bring this down. I say this because I have been looking at annual federal budgets since 1990 and the bulk is Defense, Social Security, Health and Human Services, and Debt Service. The Debt Service provisions have been less of late because we have sold so much of our debt to foreigners. However, this does not make it go away. It just means that they get returns on the interest instead of the Federal Reserve and the Federal Reserve can keep it off of our books. So, cutting spending in many areas in a small way is better than major cuts in only a few areas. Furthermore, I would advocate serious international military base closures, leaving perhaps a hand full, and only those that are needed. South Korea we need. Japan we need. We don't need troops in Germany or any of a 170 other countries where US servicemen are located. How much would this save? I don't know, but I imagine it could put a serious dent in Defense expenditures, especially if we likewise trimmed down a vast number of contracts and above all eliminated private contractor positions and services that the military has the means to perform on it's own!
Clearly these measures are just ideas. Worse still, they are ideas that a working class nobody in New Jersey is putting out there and what makes anyone think this is going to miraculously restore our economy?
Truth is, we are not going to restore the economy. The steps necessary to do so are politically impossible and everyone knows it. My only purpose here is to offer ways for our government o get closer to a balanced budget before we drive right off a cliff.
Many people feel--and rightly so--that there is no avoiding that cliff no matter what we do. I reluctantly agree, and only reluctantly because I have always felt that there are realistic solutions to any problem, and that with honesty, diligence, and a sound plan that everyone follows ANY PROBLEM CAN BE SOLVED!
Again, however, I'm just an upholsterer from New Jersey.
That's my two cents.
What do you think?