Letter: Face the facts and fix the problem | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Face the facts and fix the problem

Face the facts and fix the problem

As the U.S. debt ceiling looms again, it is time for our political leaders to face some facts:

1. Decades of unchecked spending and ridiculous tax policy have landed us in a deficit situation that is unsustainable and completely irresponsible. Both parties have had their turn at the helm and both have spent recklessly.

2. The political reality is that charting a course in the middle is also the only practical reality.

3. The deficit trajectory is so seriously bad that it cannot be fixed with spending cuts alone or only with increased taxes on the wealthy.

4. Our current tax code is embarrassingly complex; combining overly high rates with seemingly countless special interest deductions and credits.

5. A flat tax has some logical appeal, but enacting a flat tax is a political non-starter. Progressive taxation is here to stay.

6. Our country wants/needs a simplified tax code, so let’s do it. Enact a progressive tax structure and eliminate all deductions. Throw in a personal exemption high enough that families at or below the poverty line pay little or no tax. Set the rates below where they are today, but high enough to increase revenue.

7. Federal spending has to be cut. There can be no sacred cows.

a. Entitlement spending and especially entitlement spending automatic increases have to be cut. Raise the retirement age. Limit benefits to the wealthy, set a higher bar for Medicare disability. Find a way.

b. We need a strong military, but we also need to challenge our military leaders to show us where we can safely cut. We especially need to challenge our political leaders to stop supporting redundant programs simply because they are pork for their home districts.

8. The purpose of the federal government is not to provide pork projects so that incumbents have an easier time getting reelected.

9. Our political leaders have consistently acted so irresponsibly that we cannot trust them to act responsibly in the future. This screams for a balanced budget amendment. At the very least, we need an amendment limiting the size of the deficit to sustainable levels. Yes, there are external events like natural disasters and wars that will force deficit spending. These must, however, be limited. If the deficit spending is going to continue for more than a year or two, automatic tax increases need to kick in to rebalance the budget.

10. Mathematics tells us that combining spending cuts with tax increases will hurt the economy. That mathematics is missing the global impact of an irresponsible federal government. The global confidences generated by our government acting with courage and vision will far outweigh the math.

Raise revenue, cut spending, simplify the tax code and force fiscal responsibility on our government. Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

Pat McMahon


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