Tucson Progressive

Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona

How to eliminate the US budget deficit in a few easy steps

Fiscal responsibility and a balanced budget were two right wing rallying cries in the recent election.

Repeatedly, Sarah Palin, Ruth McClung and other Mama Grizzlies offered the schmaltzy recommendation that we “sit around the kitchen table like a family” and work together to balance the US budget. Unfortunately, the right wing Mama Grizzlies were just as bad at math as Papa Grizzlies like John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky). While preaching fiscal responsibility, they promoted big ticket spending– like continuing all of the Bush era tax cuts.

Basically, the plan that the Republican touted in the Pledge to America back in Septenber just doesn’t add up. They want to repeal healthcare reform and make all of the Bush II’s tax cuts (especially those for the ultra rich) permanent PLUS cut government and cut the deficit. On the NPR’s Diane Rehm Show, one commentator said that even if the Republicans take government spending back to Reagan era levels + cut more, we would still be no where near a balanced budget.

So, that Mom and Pop Grizzly talk was just smoke and mirrors to get elected. Now what do we do to eliminate the US budget deficit?

Recently, two big stories in the news lately have been: what to do (if anything) with the Bush era tax cuts that will sunset at the end of 2010 and the release of the Bowles-Simpson bipartisan budget committee’s recommendations to cut the federal deficit.

There has been quite a bit of outcry against the Cat Food Commission (as Bowles-Simpson has been dubed). They recommend eliminating the mortgage interest deduction, child tax credit, and the earned income tax credit– which benefit the middle class– plus they want to lower tax rates, tinker with Social Security, and eliminate social safety nets.

In my opinion, the commission lacks credibility since it left big ticket items– like the Bush Era tax cuts and military spending– untouched.

So, here we are around the kitchen table with politicians who are afraid to make the tough choices– as usual! Now what’s a person to do? Our elected officials– on both sides of the aisle— can’t figure this out. Well, the New York Times has come to the rescue. Last Saturday, they posted an interactive budget-balancing tool: Budget Puzzle: You Fix the Budget. Check it out. It took me about 3 minutes to come up with a budget surplus by 2015 (and I let the middle class keep its Bush Era tax cuts).

So, what’s the big deal? The big deal, of course, is all of those corporate strings attached to our lawmakers.

Intuitively, to balance the budget the way a family would you would start with luxury items or things you don’t need (like the wars). Since Bush II and the Republicans (Yes, McConnell and Boehner plus our own John McCain, Jon Kyl and the rest of the right wing drunken sailors) took a few key fiscally irresponsible steps to create the budget deficit, let’s start by rolling those unfunded pet projects back to the Clinton Era (when we had a budget surplus). Here are my recommendations:

Let all of the Bush Era tax cuts sunset. Ed Schultz has been touting this idea on his radio show, and I agree with him. I was seriously disappointed when President Obama hinted that he may cave on his original suggestion (which he has been pushing for months)– continue the middle class tax cuts but let the tax cuts for the rich sunset. Schultz’s point is that the lame duck Democrats don’t have to do anything. Let the Republicans continue to fight for the ultra-rich while pretending to be fiscally responsible. (Their recent pledge to eliminate earmarks for a year would save a tiny fraction compared to Bush II’s tax cuts, and earmarks bring jobs to rural America.) I’m with Ed. If we truly want to bring down the deficit, then let all of the tax cuts end. This would provide a $226 billion savings by 2015 ($54 billion in savings from eliminating tax cuts for the wealthy + $172 billion in savings from eliminating tax cuts for the rest of us), according to the NY Times. (Personally, if the richest 1% of Americans, the big corporations, and the US Chamber of Commerce can secretly donate billions to elect lawmakers to protect their interests, they can afford higher taxes.)

Stop both wars. The Times interactive tool doesn’t give this option, but it does allow you to pick and choose ways to reduce military spending.

Allow the US to negotiate prescription drug prices for Medicare and Medicaid and eliminate Medicare Advantage. These are both HUGE corporate giveaways that Bush II and the Republicans built into the unfunded Medicare Part D prescription bill several years ago. Up until “Obamacare” eliminated these corporate giveaways, the US is the only country that did not get a quantity price break on prescription drugs. The Republicans and Tea Partiers– puppets of the corporatists– campaigned on repeal of healthcare reform. Among other parts of healthcare reform, these 2 initiatives save money.

The NY Times also provides several other spending cuts and tax increases that can help balance the budget– items that have been proposed in the past but didn’t fly for one reason or another– but I think if we started with these unfunded Bush Era initiatives we would be well on our way to getting our fiscal house in order– as it was under President Clinton.

Once and for all, as a nation, we should:

  • Give up on trickle down economics;
  • Stop the corporate welfare;
  • Tax corporations that send jobs overseas;
  • Invest in our future by fully funding education and early childhood development;
  • Hold elected officials accountable and reward those who make tough choices that benefit the people– not big corporations.

19 comments on “How to eliminate the US budget deficit in a few easy steps

  1. Lianda
    November 18, 2010

    You are totally correct- It’s easy to balance the budget when you make cuts in the bloated military. BESIDES the two wars, we have bases all over the world. We are still making obsolete weapons that will never be used in the new  and present kind of warfare. Did the bases make us safer BEFORE 9/11? NO. Will it make us safer to get rid of them? YES, because THAT’S the reason why they “hate us”. The Empire of U.S. Bases all over to protect our not nice corporations in those countries. Read history to see how this works all over the world.
    Put a “green tax” on an outsourced jobs that is equivalent to what it would cost to hire American workers. The green tax stops as soon as the jobs return to the US; meanwhile that money can be used to build infrastructure in the US and put our workers HERE to work.
    You see, it’s easy to solve the budget problems when you don’t have this distorted picture that to help the poor and middle class, you give money to the rich.  HOW do you think they got rich: by taking money from the poor (through selling them stuff, much of it poisonous: pharmaceutical, junk bonds, and so much more, I can even begin to illustrate) . DUH- trickle up works. NOT trickle down.

  2. RH
    November 18, 2010

    Right wing fiscal conservatism is a myth, it does not exist, if it did they had 8 years during 2000-2008 of which 6 of those years they held total and absolute control of congress, senate & white house spent like drunken sailors, cut taxes to their true constituients them 2% richest in america, ignored the 98% who are a mere two pay, pension, dividend, annuity checks away from homelessness, drove this bus into a ditch like a drunk, jumped quickly to the back seat when the cop showed up pointed their finger to their passenger the democrat, he did it, its all his fault, I had nothing to do with it!:-) Now we got Deja Vu 1994, grid lock congress, senate in neutered status, white house veto will likely be used as all presidents do when they have a angry uncoperative congress!:-) The only solutions that I see is some suggest cutting off the poor sick fellows legs, don’t bother to stop the bleeding, just let it go as it surely will unless someone puts a tourniquet, the right wing/republican/teapublicans have no solutions but lots of rhetoric, anger, fear & hate, but not much else!

  3. Hugh Holub
    November 19, 2010

    Stopping corporate welfare…even trying to do this…would be enmrously instructive to people in understanding how much money goes to creating special deals for companies at taxpayer expense. People think the problem is poor people soaking up taxpayer money when in fact a huge amount of money is being used to prop up business interests.

  4. Cruz
    November 22, 2010

    Such a silly girl you are Pam, I see you’re still at it and I see not many readers or at least no one who cares to comment on your rubish.

  5. citizentoo
    November 22, 2010

    I don’t know that it would eliminate the deficit but it would certainly help.  Eliminate ALL benefits to ALL illegals, including medical care.   Not just Mexicans, ALL ILLEGALS.  That would make this country a little less attractive to the world and maybe, just maybe, we could get our good economy back.

    • citizentoo's father
      November 22, 2010

      “Come back here, Sonny.   You forgot to take all your meds.  Now you’re just going off half-cocked about illegals being responsible for our bad economy.  How many times I got to tell you that 12 million “illegals” ain’t responsible . . . it’s them durn corporations and them banks, and especially them wars, Geesh!  C’mon back now, y’hear!  Take your meds and get some much needed rest!  You got that there schizophrene!”
       
      citizentoo’s father

  6. yayabrotherhood
    November 22, 2010

    How about eliminate unconstitutional spending like the 60% of the budget for entitlements. But that would force progressive liberals to act on principles and follow the law.
    On the defense front you forgot to recommend pulling all of our troops out of Europe and let those socialist countries fund their own defense. But we can’t do that because they would not have enough money to prop up their ponzi scheme entitlement programs.

    • Pamela Powers
      December 1, 2010

      I don’t believe providing corporate welfare is in the federal or state constitution. What about that?

  7. yayabrotherhood
    November 22, 2010

    “rolling those unfunded pet projects back to the Clinton Era (when we had a budget surplus). ”
    You mean that surplus under the Republican legislature?  Your civics lesson for today is to learn that it is the House of Representatives not the president who creates and approves the budget.

  8. yayabrotherhood
    November 22, 2010

    BTW you will never have a big government that is not influenced or captured by big corporations.  If you don’t like corporate influence you should promote small, distributed government that is harder to capture, like the kind laid out in the US Constitution. But you would then be a conservative.

    • leftfield
      November 22, 2010

      Why is it that every reactionary who struggled to get through high school has suddenly become a schooled-at-home constitutional scholar? 

      Interestingly, your good buddy Barack actually is a constitutional scholar. 

      • yayabrotherhood
        November 22, 2010

        “your good buddy Barack actually is a constitutional scholar”
        LOL!

    • Brett
      December 1, 2010

      That sounds more like a Liberatarian point of view.
      Oh, BTW, let the states take back control over what happens within their borders that doesn’t affect the nation (e.g., they’d still need to follow the Commerce Clause).

  9. leftfield
    November 22, 2010

     If you don’t like corporate influence you should promote small, distributed government that is harder to capture…

    Is there anything you believe can’t be fixed by state’s rights? 

    Good thing there’s no corporate influence in Phoenix.  Nosiree, you can’t buy those guys; but you can rent them for a time.

    • yayabrotherhood
      November 22, 2010

      If you don’t like Arizona, then you can move to California, or Oregon, or Maryland.  If all the power is at the federal level then there is no place to move.  Read the writings of the founding fathers.

    • Brett
      December 1, 2010

      “Nosiree, you can’t buy those guys; but you can rent them for a time.”
      The problem really isn’t Them; it’s Us. We don’t do a good job digging into the facts (who has the time?) and tend to be lazy (I’m guilty too) and vote for who gives the best speaches, or happens to be in the “correct” party.
      We could do a better job of voting, but that isn’t the whole solution. We also need a faster feed-back mechanism – some timely way to reward those politician who do well and punish those who don’t (besides winning/losing elections). There’s too much time passed between bad decisions (or good ones) and punishement (or reward). Wouldn’t it be nice if we could vote on their pay raise/cut at the end of the year? Good luck getting that through congress.

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About

The Tucson Progressive: Pamela Powers Hannley

I stand on the side of Love. I believe in kindness to all creatures on Earth and the inherent self-worth of all individuals--not just people who agree with me or look like me.

Widespread economic and social injustice prompted me to become a candidate for the Arizona House, representing Legislative District 9 in the 2016 election. My platform focuses on economic reforms to grow Arizona's economy, establish a state-based public bank, fix our infrastructure, fully fund public education, growlocal small businesses and community banks, and put people back to work at good-paying jobs. I also stand for equal rights, choice, and paycheck fairness for women. I am running as a progressive and running clean.

My day job is managing editor for the American Journal of Medicine, an academic medicine journal with a worldwide circulation. In addition, my husband and I co-direct Arizonans for a New Economy, Arizona's public banking initiative. I am a member of the national board of the Public Banking Institute, and I am co-chair of the Arizona Democratic Progressive Caucus, the largest caucus of the Arizona Democratic Party.

I am a published author, photographer, videographer, clay artist, mother, nana, and wife. I have a bachelor's degree in journalism from Ohio State University and a masters in public health from the University of Arizona. I grew up in Amherst, Ohio, but I have lived in Tucson, Arizona since 1981. I am a proud member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson and the Public Relations Society of America.

My Tucson Progressive blog and Facebook page feature large doses of liberal ideas, local, state, and national politics, and random bits of humor. I also blog at Blog for Arizona and the Huffington Post.

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