20 February 2010

A Nation in Denial

Here's a curious little fact.

In Obama's 2010 budget, he's showing mandatory expenses at $2.184 trillion. (Mandatory includes things like social security, medicare, and interest on the national debt.) He's projecting revenues of $2.381 trillion. So, $197 billion is left for all discretionary spending. Unless, of course, we want a 1.2 trillion deficit.

Let's say that we balance the budget without adding taxes. We'd have to cut all discretionary spending by more than 85%. This would mean, for instance, that defense spending would drop from $664 billion to $95 billion, a level we haven't been at since before World War 2. The National Science Foundation - the investment our $13 trillion economy makes into basic research - would be a mere $1 billion, or about what Exxon makes in an hour.

People like to talk about the good old days before the time of so many taxes. Of course, they forget that in those good old days life expectancy was about 47 years, income was a fraction of what it is now, and people had yellow teeth. Assuming they had teeth.

George Bush took us to war and gave us a tax cut. We bought it.

Barack Obama got elected by promising universal health care and a tax cut. We bought it.

We're the ones in denial here, not the politicians. They know that they have to give us our programs and tax cuts or we boot them out.

If a politician promised to raise taxes and cut programs by enough to balance the budget he or she would lose the election. (And anyone who thinks you could balance the budget with just raising taxes or cutting programs is obviously a beneficiary of the new medical marijuana laws.) It's that simple.

Obama has appointed a commission tasked with creating recommendations for moving towards a balanced budget. Elected officials can't talk honestly about what needs to be done, so the bitter truth is left for appointed officials to say. Because you can't stay in office and talk honestly about the deficit. Not if you want to be elected by a polity in denial.

1 comment:

Big Al said...

Ron, your posting fits right in w/the cover of the latest issue of TIME magazine: Why Washington Is Frozen.

As the table of contents summation for the main article notes, "Republicans have settled on a winning political strategy, but it won't help solve the country's problems."

One of my FB friends made disparaging remarks with a picture he posted of Obama speaking to a group of children while using a teleprompter. I responded with a message similar to the TIME article, pointing out if our goal is to find fault with any of our elected leaders we don't like, we can easily find plenty of fodder via the Internet.

I may not like all that Obama, the Dems or GOP are doing, but I'm going to try my best to quit bashing them and instead give them my ideas and desires for how they can improve our collective lot.