Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Solving sequestration is a click away

Don't believe the hype. You can solve the sequestration problem that purports to send our economy over a fiscal cliff in a few weeks. It's easy - really! I did it. It takes minutes. It's called priorities. Make them.
The New York Times put together this very good online budget puzzle that was released a little more than two years ago and asks if you can solve the $418 billion FY15 budget shortfall. What's great about the puzzle is that it totals up all your tax increases and spending cuts and gives you a rough dollar amount. 
This puzzle is incomplete. It doesn't, for example, allow for tariffs, something I would implement if I were president or a Representative to Congress. It doesn't allow for the implementation of a transaction tax on Wall Street, another thing I would consider. It doesn't allow you to cut specific departments. But it's a good start towards balancing the federal budget.
So, question: How easy is it to come up with $418 billion in one-year savings in the FY15 budget? It is REALLY EASY! I did it twice.
In the first run through, in just a few minutes, I was able to eliminate $432 billion in wasteful, unneeded federal spending, didn't raise income tax rates on anyone, and kept most protections for the poor and elderly. In other words, I was able to do a better job of solving sequestration than either political party. It took me a few minutes. I cut foreign aid in half, eliminated earmarks, farm subsidies, cut some federal employees and other federal expenses, and reduced military spending. I also raised the retirement age to 68, which most folks think is going to need to happen anyway. I also capped Medicare growth, limited benefits for the rich, and tightened disability eligibility which is an $8 billion welfare boondoggle. There are more cuts with more savings, but the puzzle does give those options. However, it's a start. 
Then, I did the puzzle again and messed around with taxes. Specifically, I returned the death tax to Clinton levels, raised investment taxes to the Clinton levels, raised the payroll tax on everyone making more than $106,000, implemented some Simpson-Bowles proposals, and reduced the mortgage deduction on high-wage earners. 
That brought me to a balanced budget in FY15 (the previous $432 billion) and nearly a $250 billion surplus.
In other words, in just a few minutes, I was able to eliminate about two-thirds of this year's $1.1 trillion deficit, again, without raising income tax rates. In fact, income tax rates will be lower based on the Simpson-Bowles proposal changes.
Now, there are some problems with the puzzle. For example, any federal employees that are cut or defense workers who are laid-off will be collecting unemployment along with a lot of other folks in the private sector. So a bit more money will be needed for that. But those are small problems when we look at the entire sequestration/fiscal cliff arguments.
Don't believe the liars on both sides of the aisle, in both political parties who are more interested in scaring and lying to the people while keeping this federal budget much higher than it needs to be, choking the life out of the country. We can do it. You can do it. It's easy. I just did. 


Mark de Zabaleta said...

You have failed to explain this puzzle ...

Mark de Zabaleta

Tony said...

What do you mean?

jim said...

Tariffs!!! Oh my gosh! That will bring international business to a total halt and destroy our children's futures. What about the children, Toony, the CHILDREN?

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