Burning Down the House
Here we are, two business days away from the hard ceiling on the debt limit, after blowing through the acoustic tiles a couple of months ago. And yet, there’s no passed increase in the debt ceiling.
The House is supposed to be voting on their bill as we post this. It’s not clear that the House alone can pass a bill on the debt, let alone the House, Senate, and President together.
It’s fine to make a statement via one’s votes, or to grandstand in a debate. That’s the political side of government, and it’s a necessary part of getting people involved in the discussion. But, at the end of the day, government’s first job is to run the country. The debate comes second.
Drawing on my House reference above, it’s fine to remind an obese person who’s having a heart attack that they really need to diet. But perhaps the cardiopulmonary resuscitation is a little bit more important right now.
And so we have the Tea Party in the House, insisting that we must cut our calories, and do it now. And they’re waving a contract in front of the patient demanding he commit to a specific calorie load forever more — before chest compressions. Talk about the cart before the horse!
Yes, we need fiscal responsibility.
We need to cut our health care costs down to a level commensurate with the rest of the industrialized world. Most of the other cuts that have been discussed, while fine additions, are rounding errors compared to health care. Literally.
We also need to return our income taxes to realistic levels. Since the Nixon administration, income taxes were at about 10% of GDP (plus or minus a percent), until George W. Bush dropped it to 7%. Those three percent represent approximately half a trillion dollars a year. And that’s at our current GDP, which is significantly below its 2007 level.
Cutting health care costs will be complicated, but reverting the income tax is trivially easy. If the debt is truly the most important issue facing our nation today, as the Tea Party insists, then undoing the Bush tax cuts should be their number one priority. That it isn’t tells us that the debt is not their highest priority.
Meanwhile, the patient is still in cardiac arrest…
- GOP bad faith on the debt ceiling | Kevin Gallagher (guardian.co.uk)
- Why Didn’t Democrats Raise The Debt Ceiling Last December? (outsidethebeltway.com)
- Democrats Will Get Their Turn When Bush Tax Cuts Expire (politicalwire.com)
- Short-term debt fix poses risks for Obama (guardian.co.uk)
- Both Sides of the Fiscal Equation (woodgatesview.wordpress.com)
- Obama’s ‘Balanced’ Approach — Thomas Sowell — Townhall Conservative (gds44.wordpress.com)
- The GOP’s debt ceiling war not about debt but about Obama (thegrio.com)
- Debt-ceiling crisis: How the GOP keeps outfoxing President Obama in negotiations. (slate.com)
- Something Obama Is Good at (lewrockwell.com)
- Robert Reich: The Biggest Driver in the Deficit Battle: Standard & Poor’s (huffingtonpost.com)