Thursday, November 1, 2012

Tough Choices? Gimme a Break

Everybody says the country is polarized. Really? It seems to me that we're pretty much in agreement on most things:


*Our troops should be the best trained and best equipped in the world.

*The various branches of our military should not be competing against each other for resources but preparing instead to fight increasingly sophisticated threats to our national security.

*Our allies should be paying their fair share of the cost of defending freedom around the world.


*Social Security? Good. But Warren Buffet should have to pay the same percentage of his total income into Social Security as the rest of us. And if the retirement age also has to go up a year or two in order to make the system solvent over time, we’re fine with that.

*Medicare and Medicaid? Also good. But each needs to be run better---and by that we mean cheaper. As far as national health care is concerned, let’s stop fooling around. Requiring businesses to pay for health care is ridiculous. It’s a huge drag on their ability to grow and to create new jobs. Basic health care (just like education) should be the birthright of every US citizen. Smart and healthy citizens make for a stronger and more competitive country. Fear of destitution from illness, on the other hand, makes us less entrepreneurial and less productive. The best thing we can do for this economy is to take the cost of health care off the backs of our job creators, and instead everybody should chip in.

*Education? Don’t get me started. Every kid in America—regardless of income---goes to school. And that’s a good thing. So why stop at high school? If you’re smart enough to cut it, the country needs you to go to college. Period. But let’s face it. Colleges have been jacking up tuitions on the back of government guaranteed student loans for way too long. No college—public or private---should be eligible for any taxpayer funds of any kind (direct or indirect) unless they can prove they have a needs blind admission policy. That is, the kids they accept are allowed to attend---even if their parents can’t afford the full freight. And when colleges complain, the answer is simple. You’re supposed to be smart. Figure it out!


*We get a much better bang for the buck from Big Bird, than from Big Oil.


*How much longer are we going to put up with Fillabusters in the US Senate? Dump them. Elections are supposed to matter. The majority should rule---especially there.


*Wealth should be taxed at the same rate as work. What’s wrong with that? Why should a hedge fund manager get a tax break we won’t give to a bricklayer? They both put their pants on one leg at time--only the bricklayer’s pants actually get dirty every once in awhile.

*And speaking of taxes, let's pay whatever the top rate was when Bill Clinton was president. Things were pretty good back then. 23 million new jobs and a balance sheet that was in the black. But whatever the top rate is---everybody at the top should pay it. No exceptions.

*Finally, no profitable corporation should ever be able to pay zero taxes. That’s just bullsh*t.


*Politicians need to stop driving the government bus while drunk. The Simpson-Bowles approach makes sense. Pay for the laws you pass---or don’t pass them.

*The "chatter class" should stop calling these “tough choices.” A top tax rate at 39.5% instead of 35%? Capping the mortgage interest deduction? Making hedge fund managers pay the same tax rate as hospital workers? What’s so hard about that?

*The only pledge a politician should sign is the “Pledge of Allegiance”--especially the part about Justice for All.

On election day, when the partisan pinheads are through wasting billions of dollars demonizing each other, can we please finally face the obvious truth? Everybody who can count realizes we’re not contributing enough to pay for the programs we all want. 

So the only question left to decide is this:

When it comes to cutting spending compassionately—which must be done; and raising taxes fairly---which also must be done; who do you want making those decisions for you?

If that’s a tough choice, God help us all.