Tackling $1 trillion-plus budget deficit

Read today on NPR.com an article by The Associated Press entitled Deficit Panel Leaders’ Plan Would Cut Social Security.  According to the article the leaders of the bipartisan commission, Chairman Erskine Bowles (Democrat) and former Sen. Alan Simpson (Republican) released their proposal to control the burgeoning deficit.

Among the bold proposals are (a) reducing the annual cost-of-living increases in Social Security, (b) establishing a tough target to curb the growth of Medicare, (c) eliminating popular tax breaks such as the mortgage interest deduction, (d) cutting farm subsidies, (e) cutting foreign aid and (f) cutting the Pentagon’s budget.

The reactions of individuals from the two political parties were not unexpected.

“This is not a proposal I could support,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).  “On Medicare and Social Security in particular, there are proposals that I could not support.”

“It’s a very provocative proposal,”  said GOP Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas.  “Some of it I like.  Some of it disturbs me.  And some of it I’ve got to study.”

Wow, what a surprise.  The Democratic politician disapproves of cuts to Social Security and Medicare.  And, though not specifically identified, one can comfortably presume the Republican politician is opposed to cutting the Pentagon’s budget, foreign aid to certain countries, and probably farm subsidies.

These proposals will go NOWHERE with such attitudes. 

Austerity measures?  Not here in the United States.  There’s a special interest group or lobby for each program.  And our politicans cannot and will not compromise even if their lives depended on it.

I disagree with The Associated Press’s label of bold proposal. 

These programs selected by Bowles and Simpson for reduction or elimination are NOT new.  For example, former President George W. Bush appointed a commission concerning our tax code.  The Commission recommended eliminating the mortgage interest deduction.

Don’t think such a proposal would ever see the light of day?  Think again. In 1986 the tax code eliminated the then popular credit card interest deduction (that’s right, one could deduct credit card interest on your federal taxes).

Although the mortgage interest deduction is indeed popular and has a huge lobby, in the form of the National Realtors Association, the elimination of this deduction will eventually occur (if not within the next 5 years, maybe the next ten years).  That’s why I’m a big advocate of getting rid of all debt, including mortgage debt, ASAP. 

Our politicans – both from the left and the right – must act and be ADULTS.  All of the programs MUST BE on the table and all MUST BE  sliced in some fashion. 

We Americans must learn to develop that “stiff upper lip” like England. 

But do our politicans have the intestinal fortitude to tackel the $1 trillion defecit?  I’ll let you answer that question.


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