As of now, neither side is talking about giving in. The White House flat out says it won’t negotiate, but House Speaker John Boehner demands spending cuts if the ceiling is raised. He has said, “We’re not going to raise the debt ceiling without real cuts in spending.”
That’s the crux of our problem in gridlocked Washington. It doesn’t have to be this way. A little common sense would go a long way to fix things. And that brings us to the common sense man from Cobb; U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson.
Now that Obama is out on the stump promoting his ideas for spending us into economic growth, this is a good time to revisit Isakson’s five-point plan for curtailing the national debt and improving the economy.
First, Isakson says, “We must make a budget and cut spending.” This is an extreme idea for the president and his Democrat cohorts, particularly the “cut spending” part. Isakson makes the point that families in America have to set priorities and live within a budget. “Cutting federal spending is the number one thing we can do to help put expenses in line,” the senator says. Savings can be found “in government through attrition, by slowing down government growth,” he says. On that point, the only brake on government growth so far in the Obama administration was the “sequester,” the automatic cuts that kicked in this year after Republicans refused to cave on more spending.
Parenthetically, Isakson notes that he’s “tried to be a good steward of federal dollars” in his political career. He’s returned $3.1 million of funds from his office budget to the Treasury during 13 years in federal office. Now there’s a role model for his colleagues on both sides and in the middle of the aisle.
Isakson’s plan goes where few in Washington seem willing to go. He wants to change the Social Security formula by “adjusting the age of eligibility” as life-expectancy continues to increase. He recalls that in 1983 President Reagan and House Speaker Tip O’Neill, a dyed in the wool Democrat, agreed on changing the formula, including a phased increase in the retirement age from 65 to 67 and bringing government employees into the program for the first time among other things. Raising the age again, as Isakson proposes, should be a no-brainer that would trim costs and extend the life of the program.
Isakson also insists that Medicare must be overhauled or it “will be depleted some time between 2017 and 2024.” It makes sense but can’t get past the Democrats.
Finally, Isakson says the tax code must be reformed. He favors a “tax based on consumption” versus “the current formula of taxing production.” Meanwhile, he supports closing loopholes in the existing tax code.
It’s common sense that’s all too uncommon in Washington.