Thursday, July 15, 2010

What Is Needed Is ‘The Massive Compromise of 2011’

“Some men dream things as they wish they were and ask ‘Why not?’. Others see things as they are….and do something about it.”

(with sincere apologies to George Bernard Shaw via Robert F. Kennedy)

Here’s what we Americans seem to forget from time to time:

It is far better to get things done than to just talk about how great it would be ‘if’ things were perfect and ‘if’ we could get our way 100% of the time.

That is called 'fanciful thinking' and we have had loads of it for decades now. Tractor-trailer loads of it.

Especially now that political ideologists and dogmatists on both sides of the aisle have combined to help produce a $13 trillion national debt baby, soon to be weighing in at $20 trillion, that no one wants to discipline or even put diapers on.

Things are never ‘perfect’ and in a messy democracy like ours, we should be thankful no one gets away with doing whatever they want 100% of the time, for the most part.

(Except somehow the Obama White House has gotten pretty much every single thing they wanted over the past 18 months. Would maybe even a teensy, tiny bit of compromising and leavening the legislative loaf with some free-market principles from the other side have helped even a little bit by now?)

If nothing else will change your mind, take a good look at the past decade of unified government in Washington and see what total control of the government by either the Demopublicans or Republocrats has done for you. 

Give us ‘compromise’ and ‘gridlock stalemate’ every time from here on out.

American politicians have been talking (and talking) and posturing (and posturing) about balancing the budget for so long that it is really difficult to believe we haven’t been able to do it other than 1998-2000.  And a lot of that was by ‘sheer luck’ when the geniuses behind the internet boom went public and made billions on IPOs, exercised all their warrants and options and paid immense amounts of capital gains taxes way beyond what any CBO estimator ever dreamed of estimating.

The only reason why we have taxes in the first place is to pay for the government services our Forefathers delegated to the federal and state and local government they thought we all wanted.  Like to be defended from foreign attack or to build canals and roads and such….it is all in the Constitution, you can look it up and see for yourself.

We have to have taxes if we are going to have a civilized society.  We just happen to prefer that taxes be at a far lower rate.  Which, by definition, means that anyone who agrees with us that lower taxes are good for individuals, the nation and the economy, has to also support decisions and votes to lower the overall level of government spending, regardless of what program is involved.

We can not and should not let this debt go on unabated forever.  Erskine Bowles, co-chair of the National Debt Commission set up by President Obama, called it 'a cancer that will kill us from within' if we don't take dramatic actions now, today, not next year or in 2020....but today.

Here’s a sad ‘truth’ we have gleaned over 30 years in-and-out of politics and government:  We have never seen a zealous ‘tax-cutter/supply-sider’ who was equally adamant about reducing spending.  Ever. 

Everyone likes to cut taxes for everyone…that is the easy part.  But tax cutters/supply siders always take the ‘easy way out’ and swear on a stack of Bibles that ‘if we cut taxes far enough, and fast enough, we can out-grow all of the spending growth in these exploding entitlement programs and balance the budget, honest to God!’. 

And it never happens.  Didn’t happen under Reagan in the ‘80’s or Bush 41 up to 1992.  The economy exploded in the internet boom in the 90’s…and that was after President Clinton and a Democratic Congress raised taxes in 1993!  What in the world happened there if higher taxes were supposed to completely kill economic growth?

Let’s be grownups and face the truth of the matter: Based on the last decade of predominantly single-party rule by either the Democrats or the Republicans, our fiscal picture is an out-and-out disaster and embarrassment to any reasonable person on the face of this planet.

Extended periods of reckless spending and accumulation of debt over history since before the birth of Christ have always led to inflation, devalued currencies, higher interest rates and a general slowdown of economic activities over the ages until: 1) the country is conquered by a rival; or 2) it just slips away into the trash-heap of history cause it can’t pay its bills.

Maybe we can avoid that fate….and then maybe not.  Why take the chance when we know what we need to do to correct everything anyway?

When Republicans were in control of Washington from 2002-2006, they did not cut any spending or even try to make the federal government any smaller and less expansive, despite wanting to posture themselves as the supposedly ‘small government’ party.

The Democrats have shown they have absolutely no shame when it comes to spending money we don’t have on programs that don’t work (i.e. the ‘stimulus’ package). They then have the unmitigated gall to try to sell the snake oil that ‘all we gotta do, people, is make those gosh-darned rich multimillionaires pay their ‘fair share’ of the taxes and we will have all our favorite programs paid for!’

There ain’t enough millionaires to skin alive to pay these enormous bills we are ringing up.  Besides, they are smart enough and wealthy enough to hire the best tax accountants and lawyers to figure out how to pay what they want to pay the federal government each year in taxes, not what some politician in Washington or the White House ‘thinks’ they should be paying.

So what are the ‘adults’ out in the country supposed to do about it, now that the children have messed up the sandbox in Washington over the past 10, but really for most of the past 20-30 years on the federal budget?

We think we collectively, as a nation, all of the responsible adults remaining out there need to push the reset button today and bite the bullet and make a massive decision as American citizens first and foremost to set us on a course that will allow prosperity and growth to return with a vengeance in the near future. 

It might seem painful at first glance, but it might be the only way out of this mess.

(to be continued)

RFK courtesy of
GBS courtesy of

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