Sunday, January 16, 2011

Think you can fix the federal budget deficit?

I bet you can ... I thought I could ... and did. :-)
I don't know how I missed this NYT graphic back in November but somehow, I did: ["Budget Puzzle: You Fix the Budget Deficit"].
The interactive site allows you to pick and choose options in the budget - cutting spending, raising taxes - in order to solve the budget deficit. I stumbled upon the graphic while reading an editorial in the Columbia Journalism Review chastising exaggerators in the Tea Party and GOP who say cutting federal government budget waste and not raising taxes can balance the budget.
I'll tell you this: I was able to make the necessary cuts to balance the budget and I didn't raise taxes on regular folks, I didn't cut benes to the elderly, and I didn't raise tariffs or implement a Wall Street transaction tax [the latter two options were not offered but are on my list of revenue enhancers]. The site is also flawed because it offers few options getting out the corporate welfare, subsidies, and giveaways that we all know are in the billions of dollars [there are a couple, but nothing that adds up to the $200B-plus suggested by Ralph Nader and Public Citizen].
The one tax I did change was the payroll tax above $108,000 [even though I didn't need to]. I don't know what the perfect amount is, but it should be raised. Maybe the payroll tax should be lowered but be implemented on all earnings, not matter how high. I also did not "means test" Social Security. If you change the payroll tax and if you paid into the system, you should get something back.
The one other thing I changed that might be perceived as something that would harm ordinary people was to cap Medicare growth to the GDP plus 1 percent, for a huge savings to 2030. If we can't do that, nothing can be done. That was a biggie - $500B-plus over years - but it has to be done.
Altogether, I ended up with a budget surplus - without getting at revenue enhancers we need, like tariffs and a Wall Street transaction tax. Basically, this graphic proves that no matter what the naysayers and "experts" say, yes, you can balance the federal budget without rescinding the Bush tax cuts and without raising huge amounts of taxes on working folks - with a lot of money to spare! Go give it a try and see how you make it.

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