I wish it were that easy

My campaign manager, Chris, took me to task today for my reply to a questionnaire about how I would cut the federal debt without adding taxes. My 50 word reply was:

Are you serious? Unless you end Social Security, Medicare or do some equally foolish thing you can’t balance the national budget. Taxpayers must pay off the debt based on a progressive income tax. That way Americans who have most benefited from our dynamic economy can help keep it free.

Chris responded:


Not limited to 50 word reply this is the email I sent back to Chris.


I wish it was that easy.

Yes, we can stop wasteful spending on things like earmarks for the Bridge to Nowhere and we can raise age limits for receiving Social Security but this won’t be nearly enough to pay off our debt. This year after playing accounting games with it the Bush Administration has added hundreds of billions to the debt.

I’m struck by how much the Republican Party wasted its great success in convincing people that we should tax less without also convincing them that we should spend less. In addition to the war in Iraq the Republicans helped Bush compound the problem with increased payments for prescription medicine.

If the GOP hasn’t had the guts to make cuts perhaps there is a reason and perhaps that reason is that it wouldn’t fly politically so they took the easy route and pushed the taxes off on the next generation.

I’m struck at how timid Democrats are about tax raises. Sure they criticize GOP priorities but they don’t acknowledge that their proposals will boost taxes. Somehow the money they raise is supposed to come from thin air. But the Republicans also talk about spending more on the border in schools and for homeland security. Where to they get the money? They depend on magic. If you lower taxes you’ll get more taxes. (Because of a boost in the economy) Very few economists worth their salt put much credence in this idea even if rabid Republican voters do.

My experience on the Duluth School Board was a good lesson. All the parents I talked to wanted more spending on the Schools and thought it could be done by trimming the Administration – the same administration which kept growing as cost conscious Republicans kept adding more requirements that took more administrators to oversee.

I did admire Walter Mondale in 1984 when he said: of course, we’ll raise taxes. I didn’t vote for him and he was crushed but at least he was honest.

I also admired George Bush the first when, after foolishly saying ” Read my lips,” he raised taxes to cut down the deficit. Pat Buchanan nailed him for it and Ross Perot finished the job. His son learned an important lesson and has simply borrowed money ever since.

I remember old Representative Willard Munger back in the 1970’s when I kept running into him at candidate debates during my campaigns against Mike Jaros. Munger’s question to me every time I talked about cutting spending was “What are you going to cut?”

For years the stock reply to that question on the federal level was: We’re going to cut foreign aid. Yeah, and I’m going to lose some weight by trimming my fingernails!

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