Seeking a smarter approach to the budget

By Senator Roy Blunt
May 30, 2013

Capitol Building in Washington, February 27, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Sequestration grew out of a political impasse: Republicans refused to raise the government’s borrowing limit in 2011 without starting to bring spending under control, but Democrats refused to make choices about where to cut spending.

So the president devised sequestration, on the theory that cutting spending in such a painful and dumb way would force Republicans to raise taxes. Spending on entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare was mostly spared, but other programs, particularly defense, got across-the-board cuts.

As a result, thousands of federal workers, including border security and FBI agents, are being told to expect unpaid furloughs in the coming weeks and months. And that is only the beginning. If there is one thing Democrats and Republicans in Washington can now agree on, it is this: The sequester must be replaced.

Congress has taken bipartisan action to fix small pieces of it. To avert flight delays, we transferred Federal Aviation Administration funds to keep air-traffic controllers working and flight towers open. When the Food Safety and Inspection Service announced it was planning to furlough essential employees required to be on-site for meatpacking and other food production businesses to operate, I led the effort on the Senate floor to keep those critical personnel working.

These examples highlight the sequester’s arbitrary and destructive effects, but they also demonstrate Congress’s ability to come up with common-sense solutions. The question is whether Congress will show the same resolve to legislate a smarter approach to budgeting in general.

There are two options for sequester replacement. One, get rid of the spending limits enacted in 2011. Republicans will not agree to this – nor should they. A government that celebrates when the yearly deficit is projected to be “only” $645 billion is a government badly in need of fiscal discipline.

Americans believe the government spends far too much for our country’s long-term health, and they’re right. However, it’s not as though the spending limits in place would take discretionary spending back to the 1890s. It would only take us back to roughly 2008.

A lot of American families are spending no more now than they did in 2008. The federal government can accept the same constraints.

This leaves us with only one option for replacement. By choosing to live with the spending limits we passed two years ago, Congress can get back to regular order and make the hard decisions about where to rein in federal spending. Leadership requires setting priorities and making those hard choices. The Constitution gives Congress the responsibility to appropriate money from the Treasury. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I take that responsibility seriously.

House appropriators have moved us forward by agreeing to adhere to the limit of $966 billion for non-entitlement spending in 2014. This is the maximum amount the law would allow without having to make any across-the-board cuts – in other words, no sequester.

We should not put in the law for the next nine years to break spending limits that we already accepted. We could, on the other hand, agree on a budget that respects those limits – but hits them in a more rational way than sequestration.

Both sides should now agree that it is better to spend the same amount of money intelligently and deliberately rather than according to the sequester’s mechanical formula. The chief obstacle to such a deal is the Democrats’ hope that sticking with sequestration will force Republicans to raise taxes and spending.

Once they abandon that fantasy, we might be able to get a budget that looks a little bit more like someone designed it on purpose.

 

PHOTO (Insert A): The air traffic control tower at the Ramona Airport in Ramona, California, March 12, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Blake

PHOTO (Insert B): President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2014 budget proposal is released to Senate staff members on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 10, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

23 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/

Your approach would be great if Republicans controlled the House, the Senate and the White House. Thank God they don’t.

Posted by tnk | Report as abusive

Senator Blunt knows very well that as our population grows that holding spending to a fixed amount cannot be done without imposing pain on millions of Americans. He did not mention what programs he would freeze in place. Republics have wanted to cut Social Security and Medicare for a very long time. In fact, if they had their way, they would do away with both of those important programs. As it is, this country does not spend enough on infrastructure even as bridges crumble and highways deteriorate from lack of funding. We spend too much on military equipment that the military does not want just to please constituents in republican controlled districts where the equipment is made. The republicans stubbornly refused to return tax rates for those above who earn above $250,000. The tax rates that were increased last year have helped to bring down the national debt. You can cut your way to prosperity, Senator Blunt, and you know that very well.

Posted by RBeigher | Report as abusive

The problem Senator Blunt and Republicans fail to reognize is that America’s problem is Unaffordable Tax Cuts.

Under President Eisenhower we had a nominal tax rate of 70% for high income earners. I can tell you from life experience, life was good. Businesses contributed one out of four dollars to the revenue. Business was smoking.

Then we began to make these unaffordable tax cuts in the name of job creation that has now taken us from 70% to 39.6%.

You would think that by now we would have full employment!

The facts are that these unaffordable tax cuts have stifled our economy in not investing in infrastructure, job training and education, and improving our quality of life.

The recent professional and scholarly works support this fact

Posted by Flash1022 | Report as abusive

Do you know how much government is necessary to respond to the political wranglings of Senators? If these guys would quit with the half truths and intentional misdirections for political purposes you could likely get rid of half the federal government.

How about change a few laws that seem to not work too. The prison system in this country is a growth industry with lobbyist. That’s just sick. Fear and more fear to make the government needed. Both sides do it, but typically it is the party on the outside that does it the most.

Posted by brotherkenny4 | Report as abusive

This is nothing but pathetic Republican tripe designed to shift blame elsewhere.

The real problem in this nation is that Congress is totally controlled by the wealthy elite to serve their narrow interests, and not that of the American people.

I have a suggestion that would help this nation enormously.

Why don’t you and the rest of Congress resign en masse and give this country a chance to survive.

Posted by EconCassandra | Report as abusive

@Flash1022
I do not want You to feel uncomfortable but hardly any (less than quarter of them) rich person (equivalent of over 1 mln USD of yearly income) in the WHOLE WORLD pays effective tax rate of 20% or more…
If You know anybody that pays more due to his/her ignorance just contact them with decent tax advisor. You can even negotiate fat success fee for bringing a new client…

Posted by Wantunbiasednew | Report as abusive

600 words and 1 solution that you can attribute to your name. Member of God knows how many committees, not a single, actual idea or link on how to fix the budget problem. All you managed to accomplish (according to this document) is make stop-gap solutions a teenager would have made in the same situation. Please have a single act of decency and reply with a link to YOUR budget ideas. If you have no ideas or solutions outside of broad statements that you never actually have to back up with facts, a list of your campaign contributors should lead me to what you believe this term. I’ll take that link too.

Posted by trasisi | Report as abusive

Does it strike anyone else as odd that the Republicans, as expressed by Sen. Blunt in this op-ed, are demanding spending cuts while Democrats push for revenue increases, yet the GOP assail the Democrats for refusing “to make choices about where to cut spending”? Is it not stating the obvious that if Republicans are going to demand spending cuts then the responsibility is on them to decide where they want those spending cuts? Sen. Blunt, you want the spending cuts. What specifically should be cut?

It also bothers me that this senator, like the rest of his party, is advocating for making cuts in programs that primarily help Americans who need the help (but won’t make specific recommendations), but not one word about closing tax loopholes for wealthy corporations, what amounts to corporate welfare. Corporations have been experiencing record profits. The stock market has reached record highs. Why is Sen. Blunt willing to cut things like Social Security; Medicare; Medicaid; school lunch programs for poor children; college loan programs; food stamps; etc., but not require corporations flush with cash to pay their fair share in taxes? Could it have anything to do with the fact that corporations donate large amounts of cash to Sen. Blunt’s campaigns but people who benefit from the programs the senator is wanting to cut don’t have the money to make such contributions? Who represents those people? http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/c ontrib.php?cid=N00005195&cycle=2012 And I assume Sen. Blunt considers himself a Christian. I just wonder if Jesus shares his priorities.

One last point. Doesn’t this senator read what the world’s economists have been saying about austerity? If you don’t trust the world’s economists, look at the results yourself. The US, under Obama’s leadership, resisted austerity. We emerged from the recession in pretty good shape. Europe, on the other hand, took the advice of US republicans, adopted some pretty strict austerity measures, and they are still floundering in a recession. They have of late come to realize that austerity is bad medicine and now are coming to agree with President Obama, that it’s better to focus on reviving the economy without austerity measures. Yes, longterm plans in dealing with the deficit and debt are important and must be tackled, but the Republicans want to do too much too soon, and want those least able to bear the brunt of the deficit/debt reduction. There’s a reason why Obama won reelection and senators like Sen. Blunt really need to think about the will of the American people. I recommend reading Larry Summers’ op-ed on this topic: http://blogs.reuters.com/lawrencesummers  /2013/06/03/the-economics-of-austerity/

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive

trasisi: I coincidentally posted a link to the senator’s top campaign contributors even before reading your post. Perhaps great minds think alike, but here it’s probably more about the increasing number of Americans who are getting sick and tired of seeing their government serving only those who are willing, and are in a position to, contribute large sums of cash to the campaigns of our politicians, at the ever increasing expense of the rest of us, the vast majority. It’s destroying our Republic and, in my opinion, the number one threat to our nation’s well-being.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive

The article has a logical flaw. It indicates jobs will be lost. It then indicates jobs will be saved if money is found. It says money can be found by cutting health spending. It says nothing of lost jobs in the health industry. Can I take it as a conclusion that the military industry employs more Republicans than the Health industry?

Posted by BidnisMan | Report as abusive

The article is shallow, but lower spending is needed. Unfortunately they are cutting in the wrong places. Social Security and Medicaid are the programs that will bankrupt us if we do not chance them. Like every politician Blunt is avoiding that reality.

Posted by HENRYC | Report as abusive

More spending is a non-starter. Bernake has been flooding the country with new cash to the tune of $85 billion a month–to what effect? Spending is not a new idea; we have been over-spending for decades putting us currently $17 trillion in debt. And we need more? Who runs their household like this. Get real. Give us a break!

Posted by ponder | Report as abusive

flashrooster: I don’t agree with a lot of you posts but your desire to hear FACTS and not a long document that literally says nothing is always refreshing. We the People deserve to hear actual, fact based ideas and not a blow hard blowing for everything he’s worth.

Wantunbiasednew: Your comment illustrates a main issue with the current fiscal atmosphere. Those who ARE working their @$$e$ off for “the man” usually fall into the $150-200K range (managers, doctors, small business owners of actual businesses) where they are SLAMMED by the highest possible effective tax bracket (well, effective tax bracket anyways). This leads hard working professionals and middle income earners to believe those making even more than them must be under the same gun and paying high taxes as well, which in turn pushes them to vote for a party that may not have their best interest in mind when it comes to tax policy. We need LESS loopholes (I have to believe the majority of America wants this), but not a regressive solution (the un”Fair Tax”).

Posted by trasisi | Report as abusive

“It is a truism that deficit finance of government activity is not an alternative to tax finance or to supporting one form of spending by cutting back on another. It is only a means of deferring payment for government spending and, of course, because of interest on the debt, increasing the burden on taxpayers. A household or business cannot indefinitely increase its debt relative to its income.”

Truism or not, politicians and bureaucrats NEVER seem to “get it”. They are ALWAYS the “enemy of reason and logic”. It is nothing less than frightening to observe the mindless unrestrained printing of more and more American dollars with NOTHING “behind them”.

The day the value of a dollar is about equal to Monopoly money seems nearer and nearer with each passing day.
In the physical sense America’s land mass is not growing, nor are our natural resources, nor is the value of what we produce, therefore the value of each existing dollar is reduced proportionally by every one added to the supply of them in circulation.

The single saving grace has been that so many are held by governments as the “least worst” fiat currency and yet the day this is no longer true is actually advanced by our persistent “devaluation by printing press”. No nation or people remain “top dog” forever, and denial is no substitution for preparation in reasonable anticipation of an inevitable “day of reckoning”.

“Deficit reduction and the associated reduction in capital costs and increase in investment were important contributors to the nation’s strong economic performance during the 1990s, when productivity growth soared and the unemployment rate fell below 4 percent.”

So when times are good, this works. Actually, when times are good, EVERYTHING seems to work.

“In recent years circumstances have been anything but normal in the United States and most of the industrial world. High levels of unemployment, low levels of job vacancies and deflationary pressures all indicate that the level of output is not constrained by what the economy is capable of producing but by the level of demand.”

And there we have it. A great majority don’t comprehend that “high levels of unemployment [and] low levels of job vacancies” are the “new normal in a world in which fewer and fewer human beings are required to produce the products and services required.

Not only are these trends not going away, they will continue downward until a balance is reached with the increasing productive capability of the man/computer/machine combination and consumer demand. The structural problem implicit is that ever fewer people working in positions above minimum wage inevitably translates to ever decreasing consumer demand. As this process intensifies there will be increasing disharmony as our societies must define and separate “needs” and “wants” and actually prioritize that which sustainable government revenue must provide and to whom.

“Pulling forward necessary future expenditures, like those to replenish military supplies, repair infrastructure or rehabilitate government facilities, reduces future budget burdens and increases demand today…” may well be “…the right way forward…”. The devil, as always, is in the details.

The “anticipated curve of prosperity” must be achievable under “the new normal” in the near future, however I fear those drawing the curve will substitute aspiration for anything remotely consistent with reality. The habit of “kicking the can down the road”, or deferring problems another decade to be dealt with another generation, has “worked” for so long it will be hard to kick.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

@Flash1022,

The economy under Eisenhower was a unique period in history that will not repeat. During WW II, America’s infrastructure was expanded and maintained only as the war effort demanded.

“War bonds” had soaked up the inflationary pressures of essentially “full plus” employment and productivity and people coming out of the services with training. G.I. Bill college benefits were poised to absorb them. The gradual release of all that individually accumulated bond money would make possible many things beneficial to the economy. Like lotto winnings, few quibbled about taxes in such seeming prosperity.

Walt Kelly, in his “Pogo” strip famously stated: “We has met the enemy and he is us”. The sad truth is that “we, the people” have elected politicians who have progressively forgotten (if they ever knew) how to prioritize spending. The culture in Washington of both parties is “If we spend it they (the taxpayers) will pay”. Now that even politicians are having to accept that federal revenue is not inexhaustible they remain in denial when it comes to the Spending Limit and the federal budget.

It isn’t that America does not spend a lot of money. It spends almost unfathomable amounts, but associated waste is equally unfathomable. To maintain and inprove infrastructure, Davis-Bacon requires taxpayers to pay “union scale”. The obvious result is that taxpayers have to pay a premium even though a majority do not belong to unions. Union memgers “live better” as parasites feeding on the rest of us.

In WW II our military turned out officers in 90 days, took kids out of high school (or not yet) and made them pilots, navigators, mechanics, etc. in about six weeks sufficiently proficient to wage a successful war the world over in every conceivable climate and terrain. That’s incredible “cost-benefit”.

Today our government loans students incredible amounts while they attend college, in many cases emerging from our “academic establishment” with incredible personal debt (which will constrain their consumer purchases for years) and degrees/skills not even appropriate to the needs of today’s economy. There are people with Master’s working shifts slinging fast food with little in the way of future “great expectations”.

WHO’S AT FAULT HERE? In my opinion, it’s the very “professional and scholarly” people producing the “works” you believe support your perspective. Please.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

@flashrooster,

“…not one word about closing tax loopholes for wealthy corporations, what amounts to corporate welfare. Corporations have been experiencing record profits…”.

In past comments you purport to understand capitalism and to be a capitalist. How can we believe you if you can’t even comprehend that corporations never pay ANY taxes? It’s a shell game!

Let’s say that EVERY corporation in America was levied an extra “flat tax” over and above whatever they paid last year. The corporate accountant would immediately get a memo to adjust prices and billings for the services and/or products of the corporation as necessary to include this new “cost of doing business”. IT’S DEDUCTIBLE! Taxation has NO effect on corporate profits! It’s a shell game!

Guess who pays the new tax? “We, the people”, who but or otherwise consume whatever it is that the corporation produces. So, just in case you missed it, CORPORATE TAXES ARE PAID ENTIRELY BY “WE, THE PEOPLE” in the end. It’s a shell game!

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

OneOfTheSheep: You seem to lack an ability to understand and interpret the English language. I’m calling for the closing of loopholes that corporations use to avoid paying taxes. Your response? “In past comments you purport to understand capitalism and to be a capitalist. How can we believe you if you can’t even comprehend that corporations never pay ANY taxes?” What? That’s like me claiming that a football team is failing to win games because they don’t have a passing game and you responding by claiming that I mustn’t know anything about football because what’s really the problem is that the team never passes the ball. LOL. I will say this, I think you’re beginning to come around to my way of thinking. You’d just never admit it.

Keep up the intellectual cartoon show. You’re always entertaining.

Oh, and your “reason” for America’s success during the 1940s – 1960s: “War bonds.” Sure, man. Whatever you say. I should point out that the G.I. Bill, what Mitt Romney would classify as “mooching,” was a great idea and helped our country immensely. Those kinds of things come from taxation. But the return on our dollar is tremendous.

You write “During WW II, America’s infrastructure was expanded and maintained only as the war effort demanded.” That’s partially true, and it’s another example of our tax dollars and our government spending in a way that’s beneficial to our nation. However, I should point out that the Federal Aid Highway Act was passed in 1956, more than 10 years after WWII ended. It was not “only as the war effort demanded”. It was government spending that our government realized would help our country and its economy. They were right. It also was a great job creator. We can repeat that good idea today by putting that kind of money into our infrastructure.

It’s true that times were different back then, but to simply dismiss what we were doing effectively back then as just “a unique period in history” is conveniently blind-sighted. Things always change with each passing era. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t reemploy things that worked in the past. It may, and likely will, require tweaking, but a good idea is a good idea.

A lot of times things work because they’re good ideas. Right now US corporations are sitting on tons of cash. We have a small minority of people who are increasingly garnering all the wealth. Those same people are manipulating our government to enable their increase in wealth. Our infrastructure needs to be upgraded if we are to remain competitive in the global marketplace. So we should spend our tax dollars upgrading our infrastructure, but we shouldn’t keep deficit spending. We can close corporate tax loopholes and make these multi-millionaires and billionaires who have benefited so much from this country who are now stashing more and more of their money in overseas accounts make a greater contribution to this country. Someone like Mitt Romney shouldn’t get away with paying only 14% in taxes, and probably a lot less. That’s all I’m saying. Put country first. Wow, what a concept.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive

@flashrooster,

I apologize. For YOU to understand I should have taken the time to say: “If we close ALL “…loopholes that corporations use to avoid paying taxes…” the effective zero corporate tax rate will still be zero.” Got that?

I know it’s “two jumps for that little mind of yours, but I’m saying that corporate CUSTOMERS pay ALL “corporate taxes” because “corporate taxes” are included in the prices corporate CUSTOMERS pay. Raise their tax rate, they raise their prices, their profit stays the same and it’s the consumer/taxpayer left holding the bag, as usual. It’s a shell game!

Let’s try AGAIN on War Bonds. During WW II everybody in America of working age is either in the service, working war production, or working somewhere doing something necessary to keep the country going. Few, if any consumer goods being produced.

No cars, no tires, no fridges, and all construction is military. Lots of wages being paid, nothing to spend them on. So the government sells War Bonds for varying periods paying interest to get money out of circulation, otherwise an exploding “Black Market would render a war rationing economy unworkable. These “virtually mandatory savings” Bonds were sold up into to 1945 and perhaps beyond.

Depending on the term, individual bonds carried a rate and a maturity date. When redeemed, people got back what they paid in, plus interest. Beginning in 1945 factories phased out war production and retooled to produce consumer goods again.

At the same tie returning GIs are being discharged and enrolling in higher education at the government’s expense…for up to four years under the G.I Bill. This is generally up to 1955.

In 1956, ten years after WW II ended, American infrastructure still had not been rebuilt and yet America’s Marshall Plan had substantially rebuilt Europe and McArthur had administered the rebuilding of Japan. So the Federal Highway program and other domestic programs were undertaken. The lion’s share of those efforts was
funded by excess taxes paid as residual economic “bounces” from wartime wages continued to surge through the American economy.

Consumer spending was way up from normal. So was civilian construction, and lots of equipment was built and sold related to the Marshall Plan and in Japan, etc. (domestic manufacturers’ international sales).

We can’t “repeat that good idea today” because the “surplus earnings and profits” flow and subsequent “economic bounces” from WW II (or anything remotely similar) are long gone. The “ideas” that worked back then are inapplicable given the fiscal realities of today.

I know you weren’t around back then, but study up a bit on history, OK? With some breaks and changes, today’s soldiers have a G.I. Bill still today. But the return on higher education today for many is elusive. Certainly NOT “tremendous”.

“Right now US corporations are sitting on tons of cash.” Yep. It’s THEIR cash. Not yours, not mine, not the government’s “for the taking”, and much of it is offshore…not subject to U.S. financial jurisdiction.

“Our infrastructure needs to be upgraded if we are to remain competitive in the global marketplace. So we should spend our tax dollars upgrading our infrastructure, but we shouldn’t keep deficit spending.” OK.

“We can close corporate tax loopholes and make these multi-millionaires and billionaires who have benefited so much from this country who are now stashing more and more of their money in overseas accounts make a greater contribution to this country.” Are you serious?

Corporate money is just that. It hasn’t been distributed, and in most cases it doesn’t have to be under existing law. Stockholders have no claim on it…may never have.

The “…multi-millionaires and billionaires who have benefited so much from this country who are now stashing more and more of their money in overseas accounts…” have ALREADY paid all taxes due on money now in their possession. Yes, Congress can pass new laws or “close loopholes” today.
\
What it CAN’T do is make such changes retroactive (applicable to past economic activity). Money overseas, is generally NOT subject to U.S. Jurisdiction. It’s THEIRS to do with as they PLEASE!

Your lack of understanding of business and taxes is truly amazing in one who claims to be a successful employer.
“Someone like Mitt Romney shouldn’t get away with paying only 14% in taxes, and probably a lot less.” I agree.

“That’s all I’m saying.” No it’s not…not by a long shot. Quit posting ignorant nonsense. “Wow, what a concept.”

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

It’s not the size of the budget but the size of the deficit that matters. Your side says so, so how about acting like it?

Posted by borisjimbo | Report as abusive

OneOfTheSheep: You need to learn how to engage in a discussion without the sophomoric insults. Try channeling your inner adult if there’s one in there.

And I’m sorry, but the US economy wasn’t robust during the 1940s – 1960s because of War Bonds. War Bonds financed roughly 2/3rds of the war costs. It was a good idea. The government borrowed from the American people and paid them back with interest. The war ended in 1945, not at the end of the 1960s. During the time period in question we had high taxation, unions were at their apex, the government was investing heavily in our country–infrastructure, education, etc.–companies paid good wages, and yet there were still plenty of rich people living the life of Riley.

Since then taxes on the wealthy and corporations have been drastically reduced; government invests very little in our country; unions have very little clout anymore; and wages have stagnated while corporate execs have seen their income grow exponentially. Over the last 30 years CEO pay has increased 127 times faster than that of workers. Wealth disparity grows. The rich get richer and everyone else is sinking. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. That’s not even going into how the wealthy have bought out our government, leaving us but a shell of a democracy (a plutocracy, really) and have passed an endless slew of legislation that gives corporations ultimate power and structures our economic system that guarantees that their wealth increases, continuously at our expense.

This, in my opinion, is unacceptable, and when I state that, you call me a radical. You state, “Like so many today, they can’t wait for things to improve over time. They WANT IT ALL, NOW!” That’s the kind of thing a person says when they really support the status quo but are embarrassed to admit it, so they say, let’s not rush into anything. I know we can’t change things overnight, but why not start now? What are YOU waiting for, OneOfTheSheep?

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive

@flashrooster,

Let’s try to stick to the facts, then. “…the US economy wasn’t robust during the 1940s – 1960s because of War Bonds.” “The war ended in 1945, not at the end of the 1960s.” Yeah, I got it.

Try to envision the “big picture here”. War bonds BOUGHT to 1945 of varying maturities. The American people were getting back their money, plus interest as they cashed in those War Bonds.

I’m not sure how long after maturity they continued to pay interest (if they did). But they bought them over time, and so their money would come back over a similar or longer period.

I speculated to 1955 or so, at which time the country turned it’s attention and priority to American infrastructure. The building of the Interstate Highway System and associated investment and employment carried forward into the sixties.

You and I agree that over this period “…we had high taxation, unions were at their apex, the government was investing heavily in our country–infrastructure, education, etc.–companies paid good wages, and yet there were still plenty of rich people living the life of Riley.”

But the surge of money that made all this economic activity possible was WAR MONEY! Today’s economists understand that a dollar earned and spent is just the first of three and four “economic bounces” benefiting the economy.

Raise taxes today to the levels of the ’40s, 50s and 60s and money will leave this country like rats leaving a sinking ship. Try to limit CEO pay, and companies will relocate from U.S. soil. We aren’t Venezuela. We don’t nationalize companies in America. Get used to it.

Changing applicable laws requires consensus that takes time to build. The gate will inevitably close long after the horse is gone because private enterprise is infinitely more financially agile than government.

There’s NO “war money” today, “monetary manna from heaven” to replay the post-WW II scenario. Economists have also learned, much to their dismay, that today’s “printing press money” does NOT convey the same economic “bounces” as “war money” did.

Our government is today “investing” almost unbelievable amounts “in our country”…the sheer dollars going out to unemployment benefits without end, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, Food Stamps, federal, state and local union bureaucrats, military wages and defense contracts, disaster relief, and an infinite number of new alphabet soup government agencies..

Add those all together and pretty soon government expenditures become downright frightening. We see this in an exploding deficit even as America keeps running up against it’s Debt Limit. There’s NO FREE LUNCH! But cheer up. When government again “invests” in infrastructure, Davis-Bacon will insure that the American taxpayer will be “on the hook” for UNION wages on it ALL!

So why not start now? I’m ready, but uncertain how. As I have said previously, let’s cut the up to one third waste in Medicare payments and allow negotiation of drug prices under Medicare and Medicaid. Let’s seriously investigate investment fraud and bank mismanagement and send some people to jail.

Let’s eliminate the practice of lobbying and earmarks…institutionalized bribery for influence. Let’s establish two term limits such that the “political class” must disband and find honest work. Let’s agree that the way forward is not on the back of an ass or in the trunk of an elephant.

“We, the people” need to enter into good faith national dialog as to what we are willing to pay government to do. Let’s collectively and realistically separate our “needs” from our “wants” with full understanding that one person’s “want” is another person’s “need”.

I would like to see Congress prioritize and allocate available tax revenue to fund current government obligations to demonstrate the reasonable taxpayer expectation that they understand their job. Only when they demonstrate such willingness and capability should additional tax revenue be considered.

ALL of your concerns and all of my concerns should be “on the table”. I fully agree that the “status quo” is absolutely unsustainable and the time for change is now. BUT you don’t start out on a journey without a destination and a route.

How would YOU start this process, flashrooster?

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

OneOfTheSheep: You can talk about change until you’re blue in the face, like our current government officials do, but we won’t get real change until we break the hold that special interests have on our government. They determine what legislation gets passed and what legislation is blocked. In fact, lobbyists write many of the bills that come before Congress. That’s where you have to start because that’s the only way the American public will be able to get our government to start representing us again.

Some form of campaign finance reform has to take place. But we have to understand that such reform will be met with stiff resistance, resistance that will make what we saw when Democrats were trying to pass universal background checks look like kid’s play. In order to seriously implement the change we need to take back our government, we have to first understand that 99% of America’s power structure will oppose the people. They don’t want the change we need because the status quo is making them rich beyond their wildest dreams. It protects the seats of those in our government and protects the level of income for those funding the campaigns of those in government. That’s our power structure. That’s about as formidable an opposition as one can have.

The one thing that the people have on their side are the numbers. We have to come together and organize. We have to demand serious campaign finance reform, and we have to be willing to back up those demands, even if it means taking to the streets. You might think this is radical, but you can’t hold our Founding Fathers up as the standard bearers of freedom and liberty and then claim that protesting our current corrupt government as being too extreme. Our Founders took up guns and overthrew their government. I don’t think that would be necessary.

We have the advantage in numbers, but they have the money, and with money they can buy pretty much whatever they want, including a propaganda campaign discrediting any serious movement demanding comprehensive campaign finance reform.

So, in my opinion, that’s what we’re up against. We could be a great country again, but it won’t happen until we get our government to represent us again, and that won’t happen until we cut off the flow of money from special interests to our politicians. Otherwise, we’re wasting our time discussing the issues. Our energy policy will be based on what is best for oil company profits, not what is best for the American people. Our healthcare policy will be based on what is best for healthcare industry profits, not what is best for the American people. Our foreign policy will be based on what is best for the military-industrial complex’s profits, not what is best for the American people.

If you have a better solution I’d love to hear it. Just don’t say that we just need to elect better people, or throw all the bums out, or whatever. That won’t work. It’s our system that’s broken. Elect new people and they’ll have to fall in line with the system, or those in power will put their money behind an opponent in the next election and take the seat. 94% of the candidates that outspend their opponents win their elections.

If you want to know how we got here, read Hedrick Smith’s Who Stole the American Dream. It’s non-partisan, so don’t think it’s a book just lambasting the GOP. Both parties are controlled by the same folks. Or you can watch his lecture in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tLped6GF GA

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive

@flashrooster,

For the first time you and I each speak and each listen. I don’t find any huge issue with anything your have said here. You’ve done a good job of describing the issues before us.

I don’t yet see “a solution”. There is no logical starting point obvious to my eyes. I agree that the very people we need to replace control the levers of government and the electorial process, and they have the science of splitting up the electorate down to a fine science.

By the time anyone gets to the point of electability they are beholden to “special interests”, i.e. the Republicans or the Democrats or the lobbyists or other “hidden agendas and those not so hidden. So, once more, “we, the people” get ballot choices of “bad” and “worse”, frequently unable to vote FOR anyone…having to vote “against” an even worse choice.

I won’t pretend that you and I are likely to ever agree on many issues, but more is feasible in cooperation than in adversity. That’s why I prefer to seek out and try to work together as possible. I see no “defeat” in “agreeing to disagree” with mutual respect on other subjects.

It’s hard to accomplish much with both hands are always around someone else’s throat! Thanks for listening.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive