For years politicians of all stripes (moderates and centrists included) have been selling a fiscal lie to the country. The stereotype on the right is that we could cut taxes and the money would magically come back somehow without having to cut much. Of course the stereotype on the left is we can increase public spending without having to raise taxes much.
Both are great… of course tax cuts are popular… who wants to pay taxes? And of course public spending is popular… who doesn’t want to give more money to grandma?
But across the board the lie is that the government can give you more than it takes – that somehow we can collectively give it something, and it can magically turn that something into more before giving it back, as if Rumplestiltskin were real.
While everyone will have their opinions on what should be done to fix the defits, if there is one current among all of the plans that have been floated that would actually put us on a course towards fixing our long term debt problems, its that it will require cuts to programs that are popular, and raising taxes to more than just the wealthy.
I’ve praised the rough sketch of a proposal from the co-chairs of the President’s Fiscal Commission, but I’m not stuck on it. I always try to keep a focus on long term results, and much more important than my personal opinions on which programs should be cut how much, which tax loopholes should be closed and which taxes should be raised… is the need, the absolute need, for us to change course so we don’t have an exponentially worse problem a few from now.
Make no mistake… if we do not make painful choices now, and make exceptions only for the poor among us, then the cost on the interest of our debt will not only force out nearly all discretionary spending in less time that most are willing to accept, but it will also begin to force us to make drastic cuts in military spending and social welfare program spending that will make the tough choices we are looking at now REALLY look like we’re threatening to put granny on the street, on top of tax hikes like this country has never seen.
What I am thankful today is… that the country seems to finally be coming around to these things.