So, the GOP has unveiled their budget blueprint for fiscal year 2012. They plan to overhaul Medicare and slash nearly $5 trillion dollars over the next decade from the government, all without raising taxes, and in fact, it would cut taxes. Now, I ask you: How can they do that? I am a liberal Democrat. I am proud to be a Democrat. Yet, I also think I can embrace ideas from the Republican party as well. Some of the plans sound pretty good. For instance, in The New York Times article Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin: “proposes not only to limit federal spending and reconfigure major federal health programs, but also to rewrite the tax code, cutting the top tax rate for both individuals and corporations to 25 percent from 35 percent, reducing the number of income tax brackets and eliminating what it calls a “burdensome tangle of loopholes.” Now that sounds pretty good to me. But the problem is in doing that, major corporations and those who are the most well off with end up getting more tax breaks than they already have.
I am not an economist. In fact, I stayed as far away from economics and business as I could while in college. But, there is one thing I do know, if you do not increase revenue, you cannot close a budget gap. Here’s the thing, years ago I found myself in debt and could not pay my bills. I went to a debt consolidation service in the hopes the organization would be able to help me. The person I met with looked over all of my expenses and my income. He made recommendations to me about cutting my spending; getting rid of cable, not eating out at restaurants, using coupons when shopping to name a few. But, even with cutting my expenditures, I was still left with a budget deficit. Ultimately, the advice he gave me was to “get a better job.”
I am not a huge fan of taxes. I don’t think anyone is. However, if we want services, such as trash collection and mail service and the armed forces to protect us, we need to pay taxes. Because the cost of goods is increasing, the cost of running the government is increasing as well. Cutting taxes does not bring more money into the treasury. It leaves less money in the coffers. The United States of America has the lowest tax rate of any industrialized nation and currently, on a whole, we are paying the lowest in taxes in the past 60 years. It is a fact that taxes will need to be raised. Nobody wants to sacrifice anymore and because of that, cutting federal programs is not in the best interest of our leaders. Neither the President, Congress or state and local officials want to see popular programs cut. If parents enjoy sending their kids to school and commuters enjoy a smooth ride on the roads to work, then we face a dilemma.
When Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature announced passage of an early budget deal (the first one in five years) it was met with praise but also derision. The New York Times headline read “After an On-Time Passage of a Pared-Back Budget, Bracing for the Pain to Come.” No one is going to be happy with this budget. Yet, here’s the catch-22, if he had raised taxes, he would have been in more trouble. We have become a nation which wants to be coddled yet we no longer want to pay for the coddling. I see it this way: The Republican’s want to slash and burn all of the entitlement programs because they don’t believe government should help its citizens. Yet, when those programs are not available, they are the first to complain. Democrats want to keep those programs but are afraid of the “T” word and what that means for their prospects for the next election. Well my friends, it’s time to “man up” and face the music, so to speak. We are coming out of the worst economic disaster since The Great Depression, no raising taxes right now is not the answer, but cutting spending isn’t either. Once payrolls start to really increase, then it’s time to start implementing fair and reasonable tax increases across the board. Yes, that also mean taxing the middle class.
If we fail to meet the challenge of the debt crisis the country will go bankrupt. And, something tells me a country declaring bankruptcy is a hell of a lot worse than an individual. We face many challenges in the second decade of the 21st century and our country is at a cross roads. Now is not the time be more fractured, but to come together to work toward a common cause and goal. As President Obama so eloquently stated in his 2004 speech to the Democratic National Convention: “We worship an “awesome God” in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.”