The deficit provokes rage - but so do solutions
October 21, 2010 12:00 AM | 983 views | 11 11 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Reports from the campaign trail say the voters are outraged over the federal government's huge running budget deficits. Official figures released last week by the Obama administration show they have much to be outraged about.

The deficit for fiscal year 2010, which ended Sept. 30, came in at $1.3 trillion, the second highest ever, the all-time record being 2009's $1.4 trillion. And in the short-term it's not going to get better. The Obama administration forecasts the 2011 deficit will return to the $1.4 trillion level. Private forecasters say it won't be quite that bad, only $1.2 billion.

The voters, egged on by tea partiers and many other conservatives, are especially angry at President Obama, blaming his $814-billion stimulus and the $700-billion bailout of Wall Street and the auto companies. (There is growing evidence that the bailout not only worked but also staved off a severe depression. The cruel irony is that George W. Bush won't get the credit he deserves.)

So the next Congress will presumably include many newly minted lawmakers all fired up to do something about the deficit, if they're from the right by cutting government spending.

But meaningful cuts that will have a significant impact on the deficit are available primarily in those high-dollar areas where the government spends most of its money - defense, including veterans' benefits, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. That would take lawmakers with near-suicidal courage and we haven't seen a lot of that, no matter how tough they talk back home.

Many in Congress are counting on a bipartisan deficit reduction commission for a solution. It is due to report on Dec. 1, but the commission needs the support of 14 of its 18 members to bring a recommendation to a vote in Congress. Among the possible recommendations: ending tax expenditures - the mortgage interest deduction and other incentives - for deficit reductions of $1 trillion a year. But in reality, ending the mortgage interest deduction and other deductions would cause taxpayers to change their behaviors in order to avoid the new taxes, and cause severe economic disruption in the process.

The voters may be outraged over the deficits but they'll likely be even more outraged by what it takes to reduce them.
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Dr. Michael Palmieri
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October 29, 2010
The way to reduce the deficit is to STOP SPENDING! Why does something that seems so logical to the average American seem so foreign to democrats? Want to put the country on the right track? Get the government out of our lives. Lower taxes, stop with endless regulation, and let people keep the money they earned and simply stay the hell out of our way. The founding fathers never intended for the government to be involved in every aspect of our life. The simple fact is the democrats think we are too stupid to manage our own lives. They think they know how to spend our money better then we do. If it were not for illegal immigrants and the moocher class, the democrats would never win an election.
el paso
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October 27, 2010
Mr or Miss Heh, a lack of government oversight is why private enterprise took us into the recession. The government did not intervene in the 20's to save banks, is why a full blown depression developed. Maybe it would help if you thought of it as trying to play a football games with no referees or rules. If all it took was another tax cut for rich people, the economy would not be in the shape it is.
Heh
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October 27, 2010
More drivel from el paso. So we didn't spend enough money eh? Using your logic no matter what Obama and his ilk do you can say "hey if they didn't do this it would be worse". What a great strategy. Just admit its a failure and move on. All that money was supposed to prevent unemployment from increasing, it went past the point they said it would if they didnt spend the money. You wasted billions of tax payer money that had no business being used to bail people out. That is not the governments job - this may not make sense to you but the government does not create jobs. Its not their job or function. Period. They should create an environment that is enticing to want to do business in and that does not get in the way of free enterprise then they should get out of the way and let the private sector do its thing. If a business fails then it fails, you don't steal from the tax payers to bail out a business no matter how large it is. Let it fail and move on.
el paso
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October 25, 2010
What the tea baggers fail to grasp is that if we had not spent bailout money, we would have a depression now and even higher unemployment. The problem is, not enough was spent, which is why unemployment is so high. One of the first things to do is to do away with George W's tax cut for rich people, which is one of the reasons for the runaway deficit under Bush. We should also put Federal and State employees under social security instead of the plans they have now. Why does no politcian ever bring this up.
otter357
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October 25, 2010
Indian Joe, I notice that your suggestion of a "lock box" for social security was advocated by Al Gore in his presidential campaign of 2000. I just wanted to notice that. I've read a lot of your posts, so I was surprised to see you incorporate the verbage and ideas of Al Gore, even ten years later.

See, your hair didn't catch on fire. Sometimes, people other than yourself have thoughtful, useful ideas we should consider and implement.

One more thing, congress has been borrowing from Social Security for so long, I'm not sure it ever was a dedicated fund. Maybe for the first ten minutes.
Re; Indian Joe
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October 24, 2010
Indian Joe-Teachers do fully put into SS every pay check. Cobb County Schools require us to put into SS yet we do not receive full benefits come time to retire. Other counties who do not contribute, do not collect SS. Please stop blaming teachers for SS problems when I am paying in but won;t receive the full benefits! THanks
jane Balfour
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October 23, 2010
The general public is so short-sighted when it comes to the financial mess - remember it was the republicans who were in charge, including our two senators and our representatives. They de-regulated Wall Street, promoted shipping jobs over seas, brought in more H1B visas workers to take the few jobs we had and now they want us to trust them to fix it??? What a foolish notion.

The republicans in charge of Georgia over the past decade have done nothing to fix the education system, lower the unemployment or keep jobs in Georgia. I say we throw them all out!
Heh
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October 21, 2010
So the only solution for reducing costs with the government is cutting benefits to folks? I agree that is one method, but we seem to miss the bigger picture which is reducing government waste and reducing the bloated size of our government. Let them eat their own dog food first...
Indian Joe
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October 21, 2010
Why do you - like most other news media - continue to put Medicare and Social Security into the same boat as Medicaid. Have you looked at your pay check lately - at the point of a gun we are forced to contribute to SS and medicare. There are only a few "special" groups who are exempt. Then when the time comes when you are entitled to use either or both, all of a sudden it is a blight on society and is lumped in with social programs no one puts a dime into. I am 69, still working, and still paying into SS and medicare, which is deducted from my SS check, in addition to almost $4,000 a year for a medicare supplement policy which you have to have or no doctor will see you. For this we are told there has been no cost of living increase for 2010 or 2011 - but then they don't include food and energy into that equation, the two things seniors must have. Here is a novel idea, why not put ALL federal and state employees, teachers and railroad employees under SS - this includes our august congress. This would put in the funds needed to keep it solvent. Then we need to go back to the "lock box" so that these government thieves can no longer take out money for their pet projects and replace it with IOUs.
ATF
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October 21, 2010
Thanks for this editorial.

I have read elsewhere that the bailout and stimulus did prevent a worse depression, a fact that few are willing to acknowledge.

But it is well past time to talk about how to cut federal spending. We need our good Senators, including Isakson, to stop the games. They won't vote for the stimulus but will fight to get the stimulus money for Georgia and crow about every piece of pork sent our way. They get us pork by agreeing to let some other senator get pork of his own.

Games. Both sides play them.

One more unpopular thought. Endlessly cutting taxes will not endlessly create jobs. Every idea has its limits. The Bush tax cuts did not mean a better economy for all, but a concentration of wealth in the hands of a few and companies too big to fail who outsource jobs overseas. Capitalism cannot survive on that concentration - it requires a strong middle class, who need the jobs here. I don't know the answer, but I don't think we have found it yet, either.
Chris in Marietta
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October 21, 2010
$1,300,000,000,000.0

Just once I would like for newspapers to print all the zeros.

How does that number compare to your paycheck!

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