Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt, The Strenuous Life

News concerning debt ceiling negotiations recently mentioned three plans by  Mr. Obama to cut the deficit. The most aggressive, and offered as such, is a $3 trillion cut.  He did not say that we will cut $3 trillion over ten years, or an average of $300 billion per year. Assuming an equal cut per year, a big leap, this is only a 20% cut in the current deficit,  reducing the deficit to about $1.2 trillion per year. And it is quite likely the majority of the cuts will be delayed to affect future administrations.  Thus, the unsustainable and profligate spending will continue,  providing substantial annual additions to the $14.3 trillion debt of the United States. The Republicans are correct that this level of deficit reduction simply postpones more instances of raising the debt ceiling in the future. Also, cutting the deficit the same amount each year over ten years is not in the interests of Mr. Obama because delaying the cuts helps his chances for re-election.

Stated differently, the current debate is not about reducing or eliminating the debt of the United States. It is about finding an agreement on the appropriate rate at which the debt should increase!  If the United States eliminated the deficit, there would be no need to increase the debt ceiling.

Paul Krugman and many Democrats argue that this is not the time to cut government spending because we need to create jobs. They are right, except that the U.S. government cannot afford to do the best thing. We spent too much during good times and bad since World War II, creating a huge debt load.

The Republicans are against raising taxes. They are wrong. Taxes must rise to resolve this. They should agree to a ten year tax increase, with a sunset provision and a tax trigger, causing the application of the tax only if deficit spending is at or below an agreed annual target. Cutting Social Security benefits is within the authority of Congress, but they should not do it for anyone who is paying social security taxes. We are relying on Social Security for our retirements and will need much of that income to cover medical insurance costs, especially if we retire prior to attaining the Medicare eligibility age of 65.

News organizations should be more factual in reporting what is happening, clarifying when someone refers to a reduction over a ten year period and leaves the period of the reduction out of the statement. News organizations should be clear that the debt will continue to rise irrespective of which party dominates the outcome. And finally, news organizations should simply stop reporting on these negotiations daily. The budget, tax law, spending, and debt management are under the exclusive control of Congress and Mr. Obama. They made this mess; they need to solve it.

The average citizen is simply stuck with what passes Congress and is signed by Obama. Congress and Mr. President, please do your job and tell us the truth about what you are doing. We don’t hold the power to decide this issue, but you may not get re-elected if you continue to screw this up.



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