Why left should seek a fiscal deal

By Gabe Horwitz
November 8, 2012

“I am looking forward to reaching out,” President Barack Obama said Tuesday night after he had won reelection, “and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together.”

The progressive community must understand this and put aside its rigidity to help him meet this goal. As Obama also said early Wednesday morning, “We’ve got more work to do.”

Yet a network of liberal groups, on Thursday, plan to demand a national day of action against a balanced, grand bargain that could pull the nation back from the fiscal cliff it faces. The beef of this progressive coalition is that a real budget deal would almost certainly cut Medicare spending and may possibly include a proposal to make Social Security solvent through the century.

The president and members of Congress must now begin working to find a solution to the scheduled tax increases and spending cuts that form the fiscal cliff. This is the wrong time to draw ideological lines in the sand.

Both the right’s Tea Party-driven campaign against any new revenue and the left’s pledges to circumvent any changes to Social Security and Medicare could keep us from a balanced deal. This could doom our ability to address the fiscal cliff and secure our nation’s future.

The demands issued Wednesday by this coalition of the left to leave Social Security and Medicare on autopilot could ensure that the United States faces chronic deficits for decades. They guarantee the insolvency of the same critical safety net programs that progressives spent a century trying to create.

How we resolve the scheduled tax and spending changes will set the tone for the economy and the next Congress. A balanced deal that puts the nation on a glide path to fiscal probity would restore confidence in the economy and could lead to significant middle-class job growth. Failure to reach a deal, however, means that Congress will likely spend the next two years bickering — and getting little done on other progressive priorities like immigration, energy and education.

But there are other solid reasons why the same groups that now want the president to stand down on a balanced deal should instead embrace one.

First, progressives have toiled for a century to build and perfect an adequate safety net. With passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, this mission is complete. Their challenge now is to maintain it as we approach the most consequential demographic aging in U.S. history.

Any serious approach to fixing the safety net must include a balance of measures that make the programs healthy and solvent—new revenue, modest reductions in benefits to some recipients, and a commitment to working-class people that we will not raise payroll taxes on them in the future.

Some on the left contend that Social Security and Medicare don’t contribute to the deficit and that the programs are solvent today. Yet in 2008, Medicare began to spend more than it takes in. Social Security will do the same in 2015.

The picture only gets worse in the next two decades. Retiring baby boomers will bankrupt Medicare in 2024 and Social Security nine years later. As both programs spend down their trust funds, they will add to the deficit and ultimately become insolvent.

Second, taxes alone can’t solve the problem. New tax revenue clearly needs to be part of the solution — as the voters said Tuesday. But raising taxes only on the wealthy won’t deliver the revenue needed to solve long-term deficits and maintain the safety net.

Even if taxes went well beyond Clinton-era levels, and we pushed top rates to 50 percent and capital gains near 40 percent, deficits in 2040 would exceed $3 trillion in today’s dollars on our current spending path.

Third, this is the best moment to deal with these pillars of the social safety net. Many on the left suggest we should wait to address Social Security and Medicare with a different president and Congress. Yet there’s nothing more risky for these two vital programs.

 Social Security and Medicare need fixing. The only question is whether it is done by a Democratic president and Senate who care deeply about these programs — or by future leaders who may envision privatization, vouchers or a pure benefits-cut solution to the problem.

Without a serious fix, Social Security will become social insecurity, and Medicare will become pinched. We hope the progressive community can put aside ideologies of the past and join the president in seeking a responsible and balanced long-term fix to the fiscal cliff.

It will be good for progressives, good for the middle class and good for future retirees.

PHOTO: President Barack Obama talks about deficit reduction with House Speaker John Bohner (R-Ohio), with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to the left. REUTERS

14 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

By focusing on just these two programs, the author misses the biggest issue. Specifically, our military complex sucks up more than half of every tax dollar we pay and produces a military force that is more expensive than all of the other top five military mights in the world combined. Combined! It is not a sign of weakness to realize that, if we continue to focus so much of our funds into “protecting” our country, pretty soon, we will be left with a country so impoverished, it won’t be worth protecting any longer. Cut the military, tax the rich who have not been paying anything close to their fair share first, and then and only then should we be talking about cutting Social Security or Medicare.

Posted by whirsch | Report as abusive

No deals theses days, unless there’s rich guy with both parties in his pocket. Then it’s called “bi partisan”.

After what happened in Congress the last 4 years, why would anyone listen to this kind of advice? This is just more “we’re going over the invisible fiscal cliff”….again, so you better work with those Very Serious People…or else your mom and dad will be eating dog food. Yeah…we heard that before.

Posted by krimsonpage | Report as abusive

Are you serious?

Have you people not learned ANYTHING from this election?

You need “remedial think tank 101″ if you believe the utter bullshit you are writing.

Over the weekend I replied to an article in Reuters about the same bullshit, so I am coping my responses to that stupid article rather than having to repeat myself again.

http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/20 12/11/02/the-consequences-of-obamas-debt  /

————————————————-

Nov 2, 2012
10:06 pm UTC
Your references to Obama’s borrowing and the entitlement programs are both incorrect and disingenuous.
The entitlement programs were commingled — transferred to the main budget — during the Johnson years to cover the excess spending on both Vietnam and Johnson’s Great Society, but the taxes for NEITHER one were ever raised.
Since then the entitlements programs have been used by the government as a slush fund, which worked as long as the economy was expanding.
But since it has crashed, there is NO way the US government can possibly repay funds that no longer exist in the trust fund.
You, sir, are a liar!
What needs reforming is not Social Security — they already did that several decades ago to adjust for the baby boomers, but the government couldn’t keep its sticky fingers off the trust fund — but OUR GOVERNMENT!
Posted by Gordon2352

Nov 3, 2012
4:10 pm UTC
There is another article in Reuters which bears directly on this discussion in terms of “entitlements” that is very much worth reading.
It is called “The war over entitlements”.
http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/20 12/11/02/the-war-over-entitlements/#comm ent-65560
I posted the following comment to that article.
—————————-
Thank you so very much for telling the truth behind the pejorative propaganda being spread by the wealthy-controlled government.
NOTHING of what the government says about the “entitlement” programs is true.
EVERYTHING that is “wrong” with the programs is due ENTIRELY to government manipulation and criminal mismanagement — this is an accurate charge, since if a fund manager had done what the federal government has done, he would be brought up on a variety of criminal charges — of the Social Security funds.
And now, when the government CANNOT pay back the Social Security funds they have stolen — and used them as a “slush fund” to vastly overspend their normal budgetary constraints for decades — they are attempting to evade having to pay the benefits rightfully owed to those who paid in to Social Security by payroll taxes.
What NO ONE in the wealthy-controlled media will tell you is that the Supreme Court has ruled that Social Security is “property” and thus “imposes constraints on governmental decisions which deprive individuals of “liberty” or “property” interests within the meaning of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth or Fourteenth Amendment.”
(Wikipedia) “Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319 (1976), is a case in which the United States Supreme Court held that individuals have a statutorily granted property right in social security benefits, that the termination of those benefits implicates due process,
That means the government does NOT have the right to deprive Social Security benefits from those entitled to them.
To do so would violate the US Constitution that protects us all from “unlawful seizure” of our private property.
————————————
From Cornell Law School:
http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/hi storics/USSC_CR_0424_0319_ZO.html
III
A
Procedural due process imposes constraints on governmental decisions which deprive individuals of “liberty” or “property” interests within the meaning of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth or Fourteenth Amendment.
The Secretary does not contend that procedural due process is inapplicable to terminations of Social Security disability benefits.
He recognizes, as has been implicit in our prior decisions, e.g., Richardson v. Belcher, 404 U.S. 78, 80-81 (1971); Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401-402 (1971); Flemming v. Nestor, 363 U.S. 603, 611 (1960), that the interest of an individual in continued receipt of these benefits is a statutorily created “property” interest protected by the Fifth Amendment. Cf. Arnett v. Kennedy, 416 U.S. 134, 166 (POWELL, J., concurring in part) (1974); Board of Regents v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564, 576-578 (1972); Bell v Burson, 402 U.S. at 539; Goldberg v. Kelly, 397 U.S. at 261-262.
Rather, the Secretary contends that the existing administrative procedures, detailed below, provide all the process [p333] that is constitutionally due before a recipient can be deprived of that interest.
This Court consistently has held that some form of hearing is required before an individual is finally deprived of a property interest.
—————————————-
By “recasting” them as somehow being a scam by those who do not deserve to live out their lives with a minimum safety net of income and health care, the government hopes to set the stage of public opinion to deny paying out the benefits to their rightful recipients altogether.
The real truth is the US government is BROKE, and it CANNOT pay Social Security to the baby boomers!
But that is something they also CANNOT admit for fear of public reaction.
The current strategy — and this is REALLY important — is Congress knows it cannot legally deny paying benefits to those who have already paid in to Social Security, but they CAN manipulate and “restructure” the taxes and payments going forward to the baby boomers so that it has the same net effect of seizing private property, while not seeming to do so.
So, the BIG LIE of “entitlements” is being pushed in an attempt to evade their legal responsibility to the American people.
Posted by Gordon2352 |

************ IMPORTANT **************

Nov 3, 2012
5:22 pm UTC
I want you all to understand that I am NOT against Social Security reform. I DOES need to be reformed, BUT not the way the government wants to do it.
Cutting benefits and extending the time until Social Security can be collected simply pushes the problem onto our children and grandchildren to deal with.
It would create a significant “gap” between when a person can retire — or more likely needs to retire due to increasing layoffs in this economy or ill health that prevents them from working — which will only serve to exacerbate the social problems we have now.
For example, if a person is forced to retire, but has not yet attained the legal retirement age, how can they survive — especially if all the other social programs are cut, which is a high probability?
Elderly people and not so elderly people (e.g. due to losing one’s job before being able to retire) will cause massive dislocations in the US economy as people begin to lose their homes (or apartments as the case may be) and be forced onto the streets to survive as best they can.
This is NOT a worse-case scenario, but a highly probable scenario if we proceed with cutting what little safety net we have beginning next year.
That will tend to destabilize this government and create social problems of long-term unemployment with no health care at all, thereby creating a best-case scenario of Greece, for example.
That will put EVERYONE in this country at risk.
I propose:
(1) As a precondition to reform, completely remove Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid from government control. The government has been unable to prevent itself from manipulating the Social Security program since it first began in 1927.
THAT record does not bode well for the success of the government’s latest proposal to solve entitlements.
I will guarantee you that in a few years down the road we will be revisiting this problem again if we allow the government to apply its fix, PLUS we get the added bonus of a destabilized nation to deal with, which we do not have now.
(2) REMOVE THE CAP from Social Security so that it functions like the real social insurance it was meant to be. Yes, that means people like Bill Gates would have to pay their “fair share” of Social Security, even if they never need it. The wealthy class needs to recognize its primary responsibility is to THIS COUNTRY, not the global economy and their hidden hoard of wealth they refuse to share.
(3) Once the cap has been removed and the fund legally separated from government control, the real amount of adjustment in terms of taxes and benefits can be made. This CANNOT be done while it is commingled with the general fund.
My guess is that Social Security would immediately produce a surplus IN YEAR ONE after these changes are made. Yes, it has produced surpluses in the past, but those have been destroyed by government meddling.
—————————————
As a bonus to the American people, once the “red herring” of entitlements is removed, we can then readily identify the REAL excess spending in the government budget.
I think that will be the enormous spending on the Military/Industrial Complex, which is the REAL reason why the government wants to use “entitlements” to confuse the issue of their profligate military spending.
Posted by Gordon2352 |

**************************************

From today, yet another irrational article another of you people who learned nothing from the vote either, along with my response from this morning.

http://blogs.reuters.com/david-rohde/201 2/11/07/jeb-saxby-and-chris-save-your-pa rty-and-us/

Nov 8, 2012
3:31 pm UTC

Is it April 1st already?

My how time flies when you’re having fun!

A couple of things — more like “reality checks” — since you obviously have not been paying attention. And by your article still don’t seem to understand what happened.

(1) New Gingrich is absolutely right (suddenly I have a bad taste in my mouth having said that) by this comment ““We have to recognize that if you’re not going to be competitive with Latinos, with African-Americans, with Native Americans, with Asian-Americans,” Gingrich said on CBS, “you’re not going to be a successful party.” He was simply being a bit more explicit — NOT a mea culpa — than others in your article who said basically, “it’s the demographics, stupid!”.

PLUS, and this is a VERY BIG plus, is the outright arrogance of the Republican party, who blatantly lobbied for a return to the “good old days” when the wealthy class ran rough shod over the American people.

I have said in previous comments that the wealthy class/Republicans have lost touch with reality if they think the American people are going to allow that to happen.

And, guess what, they didn’t.

You people are not the “Landed Gentry” you think you are and this is NOT England, or even the US prior to the wealthy-induced Great Depression that you have the power to force the American people to give up what little “safety net” this pathetic wealthy-run government provides.

THAT is what is wrong. You crowed you didn’t need the little people — the 99% — and guess what, you were WRONG!

Arrogance will NOT get you elected into office anymore in this country.

The “good old days” for raw wealthy power are gone. It may have worked when the country was mostly white European immigrants, but the whites are now a minority — a sort of “endangered species” in their own country — which will become the same designation for the Republican party unless they recognize that the “divine right of kings” is a concept that is long dead. THEY need the American people to survive, not the other way around.

What the Republican party NEEDS to do right now is go “hat in hand” to the Democrats and utter those magic words “mea culpa” — in other words, admit they are wrong about literally EVERYTHING — and will work with the Democrats for the betterment of THIS nation for a change. Only THAT will avoid the “fiscal cliff”.

THAT is what this vote means.

The American people are tired of your wealthy bullshit, so knock it off and face reality that this is the future, not YOUR “glorious past” which was ALWAYS at the expense of everyone else.

We aren’t willing to go back there for you people.
Posted by Gordon2352 |

Posted by Gordon2352 | Report as abusive

Remove the cap! This will take care of most of this faux “problem.” If we don’t start anymore preemptive wars, that will fix the rest. Don’t take away from the elderly while indulging the rich, who already have more money than they can count.

Posted by CalGal | Report as abusive

SOCIAL INJUSTICE

{GH: The progressive community must understand this and put aside its rigidity to help him meet this goal.}

I am a Centrist (as defined by WikiPedia). But, I do not think the circumstances yet exist for the Left to give any recognition to the Right for the mess the US is in.

Furthermore, as regards Income Disparity, it is the worst of any modern nation. How do I know that fact?

The Global Income Database at the Paris School of Economics demonstrates clearly that the share of Total Income of the Top 10% of American households increased from 31.5% to 46.3% over the past five decades:
1960 – 33.8%
1970 – 31.5%
1980 – 32.9%
1990 – 38.8%
2000 – 43.1%
2010 – 46.3%
(Source: http://topincomes.g-mond.parisschoolofec onomics.eu/ )

That’s nearly half the total income generated by the American economy! Which means that the rest of us, we 90Percenters, are left to share the remaining 54% of national income. Which is tantamount to unconscionable Social Injustice.

So, yes, because of the Fiscal-Cliff scare, perhaps there will be a combined effort to avoid the worst consequences. But the fact of the matter remains that since Ronald Reagan drastically reduced top income taxation of both compensation and capital gains, the US has been on a dark road to Income Inequality.

And it will remain on that road to Social Injustice for as long as tax-rates are not replaced at levels that existed since the mid-1920s until they came tumbling down during the Reagan Administration. (See historical info-graphic here.)

Is it any wonder that Warren Buffet pays a lower tax-rate than his secretary?

Posted by deLafayette | Report as abusive

Typo: (See historical info-graphic here.)

Should read: (See historical info-graphic here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Taxes_ debt.png )

Posted by deLafayette | Report as abusive

The people who live in the gutter are not afraid of cliffs. It is the high and mighty who have a distance to fall. I say full speed ahead, because my feet are on the ground, not walking on the backs of labor.

Posted by brotherkenny4 | Report as abusive

@ deLafayette –

I understand your point about “I do not think the circumstances yet exist for the Left to give any recognition to the Right for the mess the US is in”, but if the economic conditions warranting each side trying to find a reasonable solution is not yet sufficiently dire now, then when?

Remember history typically favors the wealthy class when a society collapses.

What we have is two wealthy classes — let’s call them Democrat and Republican for convenience sake, since both represent a vast umbrella of the American people — who are engaged in an insane battle for power. And neither one is willing to give in, even if it forces the whole US economy to collapse.

That is the underlying problem.

For example, look at what the idiot who wrote this article is advising in terms of economic policy.

Destroy what little safety net the people in this country have, so the wealthy class can continue its profligate spending.

Compared to ANY other OECD country, they sure haven’t been lavishing any of that profligate spending on anyone except themselves.

THEY are the problem, and as long as they can get away with the incredibly stupid and greedy antics they have been, they WILL continue to do so.

Only the American people can stop them by taking direct action — no matter what it takes at this point — since the last couple of elections have not even made an impression on either party as to unhappy people are with Congress.

They WILL continue to shrug it off and lie through their teeth as long as they can get away with it — right now, there is NO downside to their childish behavior because the American people tolerate it.

Unfortunately, we are seriously running out of time to do something to save this country from them.

————————————————-

To illustrate my point, here is an article from Der Spiegel, a well respected German news source dated Monday, just before the election.

The American people NEED to see this country from a different viewpoint, and I think this one is right on the money.

If you prefer to read the original article, here is the link:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/worl d/commentary-total-capitalism-and-the-do wnfall-of-america-a-865437.html

11/05/2012

Destroyed by Total Capitalism America Has Already Lost Tuesday’s Election

A Commentary by Jakob Augstein

Germans see the US election as a battle between the good Obama and the evil Romney.

But this is a mistake.

Regardless of who wins the election on Tuesday, total capitalism is America’s true ruler, and it has the power to destroy the country.
Info

The United States Army is developing a weapon that can reach — and destroy — any location on Earth within an hour.

At the same time, power lines held up by wooden poles dangle over the streets of Brooklyn, Queens and New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy ripped them apart there and in communities across the East Coast last week, and many places remain without electricity.

That’s America, where high-tech options are available only to the elite, and the rest live under conditions comparable to a those of a developing nation.

No country has produced more Nobel Prize winners, yet in New York City hospitals had to be evacuated during the storm because their emergency generators didn’t work properly.

Anyone who sees this as a contradiction has failed to grasp the fact that America is a country of total capitalism.

Its functionaries have no need of public hospitals or of a reliable power supply to private homes.

The elite have their own infrastructure.

Total capitalism, however, has left American society in ruins and crippled the government.

America’s fate is not just an accident produced by the system.

It is a consequence of that system.

Obama couldn’t change this, and Romney wouldn’t be able to either.

Europe is mistaken if it views the election as a choice between the forces of good and evil.

And it certainly doesn’t amount to a potential change in political direction as some newspapers on the Continent would have us believe.

A Powerless President

Romney, the exceedingly wealthy business man, and Obama, the cultivated civil rights lawyer, are two faces of a political system that no longer has much to do with democracy as we understand it.

Democracy is about choice, but Americans don’t really have much of a choice.

Obama proved this.

Nearly four years ago, it seemed like a new beginning for America when he took office. But this was a misunderstanding.

Obama didn’t close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, nor did he lift immunity for alleged war criminals from the Bush-era, or regulate the financial markets, and climate change was hardly discussed during the current election campaign.

The military, the banks, industry — the people are helpless in the face of their power, as is the president.

Not even credit default swaps, the kind of investment that brought down Lehman Brothers and took Western economies to the brink, has been banned or even better regulated.

It is likely the case that Obama wanted to do more, but couldn’t.

But what role does that play in the bigger picture?

We want to believe that Obama failed because of the conservatives inside his own country.

Indeed, the fanatics that Mitt Romney depends on have jettisoned everything that distinguishes the West: science and logic, reason and moderation, even simple decency.

They hate homosexuals, the weak and the state. They oppress women and persecute immigrants. Their moralizing about abortion doesn’t even spare the victims of rape. They are the Taliban of the West.

The Winner Makes No Difference to Europe

Still, they are only the symptom of America’s failure, not the cause.

In reality, neither the idealists and Democrats, nor the useful idiots of the Tea Party have any power over the circumstances.

From a European perspective, it doesn’t matter who wins this election.

Only US foreign policy is important to us — and Obama is no dove and Romney no hawk.

The incumbent president prefers to wage his wars with drones instead of troops, though the victims probably don’t care if they’re killed by man or machine.

Meanwhile, despite all the criticism, his challenger says he wouldn’t join Israel were the country to go to war with Iran because the US can now no longer afford such a thing.

In any case, it is wrong to characterize Republicans as the party of warmongers and Democrats as the party of peace — or even to call the latter a left-wing party at all.

After all, it was Democratic presidents Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson who started the wars in Korea and Vietnam.

Republican presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon ended these wars.

And Ronald Reagan, who Europeans see as the embodiment of both the evil and absurd aspects of American politics, was a peaceful man compared to the standards we have since become accustomed to. He only ever invaded Grenada.

The truth is that we simply no longer understand America.

Looking at the country from Germany and Europe, we see a foreign culture.

The political system is in the hands of big business and its lobbyists.

The checks and balances have failed. And a perverse mix of irresponsibility, greed and religious zealotry dominate public opinion.

The downfall of the American empire has begun.

It could be that the country’s citizens wouldn’t be able to stop it no matter how hard they tried.

But they aren’t even trying.

——————————————-

THAT is what is wrong with this country.

Posted by PseudoTurtle | Report as abusive

For those of you who are interested in who this great oracle for our society really is, here is his profile.

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/gabe-horwitz  /16/582/17b

Or looked at from their website, a professional lobbyist, which means he and people exactly like him ARE the problem.

http://www.thirdway.org/staff/151

What it says is he is from a wealthy, privileged background with NO education or experience to back up his ridiculous opinions.

———————————–

Gabe Horwitz

Director of the Economic Program

Gabe Horwitz directs Third Way’s Economic Program, which is committed to advancing a pro-growth economic agenda and narrative for the 21st century. Prior to joining Third Way, Mr. Horwitz served for over a decade developing advocacy and grassroots issue campaigns, serving on Presidential and Congressional campaigns, and holding numerous positions on Capitol Hill. Most recently, he was an Executive Vice President at McBee Strategic Consulting where he advised companies and municipalities focused on the intersection of tax, healthcare, agriculture, energy, and telecommunications policy. Prior to that, Mr. Horwitz served for a number of years on Capitol Hill where he was most recently Legislative Director for Rep. Doris Matsui (CA). He has also worked for members of the moderate Blue Dog Coalition, including former Rep. Marion Berry (AR) and Rep. Mike McIntyre (NC), and has managed committee work across seven House committees including the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rules Committee, and Appropriations Committee, among others. Mr. Horwitz also operated in the 2004 Presidential election and 2006 election cycle, and spent four years at the Dewey Square Group where he managed various national public affairs campaigns for both trade associations and Fortune 500 Companies. Gabe is a native of Chicago and a graduate of Dartmouth College.

Posted by PseudoTurtle | Report as abusive

Thanks Reuters for killing the story just as it was beginning to get interesting.

Apparently, your editors can’t stand the truth and more than our government can.

Don’t you think the American people deserve to know the truth?

What happened to journalistic integrity?

Posted by PseudoTurtle | Report as abusive

THE QUESTION

{PT: since the last couple of elections have not even made an impression on either party as to unhappy people are with Congress.}

I wish I could believe this, but I cannot.

There was a net-shift Right in the voting pattern in this presidential election versus the last. Yes, Obama go elected despite that shift. Why? Because the blacks and hispanics went with him. Romney earned more votes from the Whites than Obama.

As I am fond of facing, the notion of Social Justice is not even in the American lexicon. We never even think of it. We are fixated on jobs, jobs, jobs.

As so, yes, we get the knee-jerking from candidates like Romney regarding jobs, jobs, jobs. Because that is what we want most.

I can post the above figures on Income Disparity that show the innate unfairness of our economic system. But those numbers alone will not change minds permanently.

I believe in Centrism, that of Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, because, as I am fond of saying, we know how to nurture and milk the cash-cow in our economy, but we have no notion whatsoever of how to distribute it equitably. (Centrism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centrism )

One more “fact” – called the Gini Coefficient, which is an economic method for analyzing income fairness comparatively amongst nations. See it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gini_s ince_WWII.svg

Note how the US is all alone (of western, developed civilizations) in the top scale (the higher the Gini Coefficient, the higher is Income Unfairness in a country).

Note how all the European countries, with their high Tax ‘n Spend schemes “travel” in the band between 25 and 35. Just to the north of us is Canada with a coefficient of 27, whilst ours is at 43.

What is it about Social Justice that the Canadians know and Americans do not? Huh?

Someone please answer The Question?

Posted by deLafayette | Report as abusive

third way is a centrist think tank only if you believe rush is the center.

Posted by jcfl | Report as abusive

How is this a ‘cliff’?

What bad thing will happen if this goes into effect, as it’s already scheduled to do in January? I believe that nothing bad will happen. We’re talking about cutting spending, while raising revenue (through expiration of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy). Those things need to happen anyway. It may get bumpy because Congress is not used to belt-tightening, but so what?

This is essentially the Simpson-Bowles plan with a timer installed on it. So let it happen.

This is not a fiscal cliff. It’s a fiscal vitamin. Time to take it and move on.

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

{The president and members of Congress must now begin working to find a solution to the scheduled tax increases and spending cuts that form the fiscal cliff. }

One central component of a “solution” is staring them in the face, but nobody will act upon it because it touches the vested-interests of a powerful lobby in Washington.

Due in part to the Obesity Pandemic, American health-care costs are skyrocketing. They already account for about 17% of our GDP and it is growing steadily. For comparison purposes, see other country percentages here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cou ntries_by_total_health_expenditure_(PPP) _per_capita

We passed a universal coverage bill that did not go far enough. Real competition in health-care is yet to happen, with most insurance provided by a handful of BigInsurance companies. The Public Option could have provided that much needed competition.

The EU countries that you will note in the above comparison all have National Health Systems, which is why their costs are so much lower than ours. This means principally that practioner-services pricing is mandated by a National Health Agency that must pay them. Meaning, first, there is a single payer and not the hodgepodge of American HC-insurance. Secondly, the mandated pricing not only caps cost rises but provides an adequate remuneration to practionsers (physicians, specialists, nurses, etc.)

More importantly, however, hospitals are run by local communities (cities, states) with subsidies from national governements. They do not and must not “turn a profit”.

Health Care is NOT A BUSINESS. It is a Public Service, like Defense, Homeland Security, Firefighting and Policing.

When are we going to understand that simple fact?

Posted by deLafayette | Report as abusive