This is a great nonpartisan primer on the Fiscal Cliff. Of course my solution remains as it has been and is guaranteed to solve most of the USA’s financial problems – cuts to entitlements via means testing and a 5% annual DOD cut for the next 10 years which would allow us to keep soldiers *safer* than now, reduce global tensions, and balance the budget. I understand why “liberals” like public spending – it shifts money from rich to middle class (and to a minor extent the very poor), but I don’t understand why “conservatives” support so much overspending on DOD. It’s inconsistent with the founders vision of small government and inconsisten with any reasonable strategic vision of how the world works. As Ron Paul points out to deaf ears you can want a strong defense without wanting an exhorbitantly expensive defense.
I remain a fan of President Obama but it has been painful to watch him and congress move to adopt the most reckless example of massive and excessive government spending since the founding of our remarkable American experiment. The founders knew that solutions spring not from large and cumbersome governments, but from the hard work and inspired innovation of a free and vibrant people.
The budget problem is another great example of how chickens tend to come home to roost, and expensively. After inheriting a spectacular financial situation from the Clinton years, GW Bush managed to drive up the national debt by about $6,000,000,000,000, doubling this critical measure of our future prosperity potential even as Republicans whined about how “tax and spend” liberalism was ruining the country. Note also that only a small part of this was war spending and war is not a legitimate economic excuse for long term deficit spending. As they shifted our costs to the far future rather than balanced the bloated budgets Republicans adopted a “don’t tax, just spend!” philosophy that is now …. wait for it …. being used by Obama and the Democrats to speciously justify spending of far-greater-than-biblical proportions. Meanwhile, having lost almost all of their “fiscal responsibility” credibility over the past 8 years Republicans *very correct* concerns about the new budget are reaching a lot of deaf ears.
Republican Senator Judd Gregg, who turned down a major administration appointment probably due to these differences – has been one of the most articulate critics. He notes that the proposed budgets for the next decade will create a massive wall of debt – probably an insurmountable debt – such that our children will have to choose between massive taxation levels or dangerous inflationary measures such as printing money to repay the huge sums we are borrowing now from other governments.
Senator Gregg is right on with this, and it will be tragic if he does not become a key architect of the solutions needed.
Democrats, who tend to choose optimism over realism, suggest that we’ll jump start the flailing economy and restore the prosperity train and live happily ever after. It’s probably true that the current budget and high spending will help keep the economy from tanking. Most economists agree we need a massive injection of Government money to stimulate things. However I think few experts – and even fewer real people (who often have at least as good a power of prediction) would make the case that we aren’t heading for major trouble down the line.
Much of the solution is clear:
Stimulus should be smaller, more targeted, and eliminate the tens of billions in costly projects with dubious benefits.
Health Care cost reductions should be massive, aggressive, and all options must be kept on the table. Europe and Canada have vastly superior models to our system with comparable care at half the cost. Whining about the relatively small numbers of underserved patients isn’t convincing anybody anymore. If free market enthusiasts can come close to Canada / Europe health costs then propose plans that do this NOW. Otherwise shut up and adopt a single payer or nationalized health care system. The “quality of care” arguments are largely bogus and designed to scare people into opposing cheaper solutions. The current system is not sustainable and we have alternative cheaper and viable models.
Defense cost cuts should be massive and aggressive. We’ve massively overspent on defense since WWII and both parties refuse to view this spending rationally, where ROI is measured in logical terms of achieving objectives. Simply eliminating the military pork projects will cut *tens of billions* We need to use our highly effective targeted strike capabilities, humanitarian assistance, and public relations to gain far more international support at a fraction of the cost. Note to Republicans – stop your knee jerk nonsensical support of indefensibly massive defense spending.
Entitlements should be cut gradually but eventually massively and as soon as the economy shows clear signs of stability. We’re living on the money of future workers, not our own, and if this does not stop soon it could be the greatest case of intergenerational theft of all time. With respect to many entitlement programs we are all little Bernie Madoffs, pushing the Government to pay us from money they are borrowing from America’s children.
Note to Democrats: stop your knee jerk nonsensical support of excessive entitlements.
These three measures would allow a balanced budget as soon as the economy stabilizes.
We must end the era of tribal thinking and “political finance” where the government – to please constituents and party hacks – keeps running things wrong and not in the long term best interests of the country.