Monday, March 11, 2013
Okay, YOU Balance The Budget! (Part II)
Two years ago, I outlined what it's like to be the one to balance the nation's budget. Back then, the government was threatening shutdown over increasing the debt ceiling. It was overwhelmingly clear then that it was impossible to balance the national checkbook without cutting spending AND raising taxes both. Now, with the sequester underway, and with various areas of government all feeling the pinch, it seems relevant for me to re-visit the idea. Republicans have drawn a line in the sand regarding spending cuts rather than tax increases. Is this even possible? Or is the current situation similar to the one of two years ago?
Indeed, the situation is exactly the same. Here are the projected numbers for 2013, courtesy of the Congressional Budget Office:
2,902 billion in revenues (that's incoming taxes).
3,803 billion in outlays (that's government spending).
901 billion in deficit (that's the amount we're spending too much of and putting on the nation's credit card).
That means that balancing the budget would involve raising our current tax revenue by one-third of today's levels (31%), or else slashing about one-quarter (23.7%) of national spending.
2,293 billion is mandatory spending, while 1,510 billion is discretionary. In other words, one would have to jettison two-thirds of our discretionary spending in order to balance the budget.
That's not as bad as two years ago, when balancing the budget meant dealing with a deficit which was half the nation's income, and nearly all discretionary spending. The numbers are moving in the right direction. Obama kept his promise of cutting the nation's deficit in half by the start of his second term (it just happened after the election was over, that's all). But we're still in dire straits.
And it's still impossible to balance the budget without cutting spending and increasing revenues both!
The one number which is worse is the national debt. It now stands projected at $17.5 trillion for 2013, up from $14.8 trillion in 2011. The debt increase is leveling off, which is good, but is still increasing and that's bad. Plus we're paying interest on all that, and that's even worse. This, more than anything else, makes the need for increasing revenues of paramount importance.
What part of "no choice" do Republicans not understand?
Any lines in the sand which have been drawn over not increasing revenues are just that - lines in the sand; the transient, shifting, impermanent, wind-blown dust. Increasing revenue is not off the table, as Republicans will insist, but is rather welded to the table! Any chin-boogie to the contrary is nothing but monkey-chatter.
Now here's where it really gets interesting: The entire 2012 presidential campaign was predicated on balancing the budget through closing loopholes in the tax code. Over and over again, Mitt Romney insisted that the budget could be balanced through tax reform, and this became the official Republican stance: closing loopholes did not constitute increasing taxes.
So why are they even bothering to fight over this now? All Obama wants to do is close the tax loopholes that Mitt Romney wanted to close!
Ah, but the nation doesn't have a tax problem, say the so-called conservatives, it has a spending problem. Bullshit! It has a spending AND a tax problem!
So, let's recap: Republicans are fighting over an issue they themselves campaigned in favor of in their attempt to unseat Barack Obama, one in which they have no choice but to capitulate upon, and they're willing to throw the entire nation under the sequestration bus in order to accomplish this.
Peter Segal of NPR's news-quiz show, 'Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!' said it best: "Barack Obama set up the sequestration agreement on the premise that Congress would have to be crazy to allow it to happen. Well, right there, you can see the flaw in the logic."
Indeed. Congress is bat-shit crazy!
Now, here's where my rant reaches a fever pitch: Why in frakkin' Hades did Newt Gingrich get to sit his smug fat-ass in front of David Gregory for twenty fucking minutes without having to confront ANY of this?!