Readers, I’m going to be straight with you. I’m pretty damn liberal. How liberal? I’m an equal rights for all, immigration reforming, gun control advocating, bleeding blue, Obama-shoe-wearing liberal. For the most part, if there is an issue, I’m on the left side of the fence drinking beers with Paul Krugman, Jon Stewart, and Bill Clinton while Keith Olbermann yells incessantly about Fox News from the pool. However, one issue I tend to be much more moderate on is the economy and how to fix it.
For those who aren’t up to date or just confused, the sequester is explained pretty well by The Washington Post: “It’s a package of automatic spending cuts that’s part of the Budget Control Act (BCA), which was passed in August 2011. The cuts, which are projected to total $1.2 trillion, are scheduled to begin in 2013 and end in 2021, evenly divided over the nine-year period.”
As per usual, Congress was up to its usual unproductive bullshit. As a result, over a trillion dollars was cut from programs in education, health care, security, and the military, among others. Let’s take a look at a few things cut: $168 million from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, $199 million from public housing, $633 million cut from the Department of Education’s Special Education programs, and $928 million from FEMA’s disaster relief money. Fucking $928 million from FEMA! Look regardless of FEMA’s efficiency after a certain hurricane eight years ago, that’s almost a billion dollars being taken away from disaster relief, which, if Sandy is any indication, seems to be becoming more frequently needed. To my liberal relief, they are taking over $500 billion over ten years from the military budget as well. Had they not, I’d actually consider
punching a hole in my wall writing a strongly worded letter to my Congressman. I mean for God’s sake, even Ben Bernanke isn’t on board with this and he’s Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Be quiet Libertarians; we’re not having that debate right now.
You’re probably wondering where my “moderation” comes into this argument. Well listen up, because here it is. I’m certainly no economics expert (I pulled a B average in 3 classes), I think the key to solving this problem is a balance of two actions. First, well thought out, gradual, and moderate spending cuts from around the board and a minimal. Second, proportional raise in taxes. It’ll take more time but like that one girlfriend told you, “sometimes slower is better.” I’m sure I’m not the first person to come up with this idea but I feel like those running the GOP are just completely insane not to agree to a balance.
I say first and foremost you cut back on military spending. I know we’re still in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Middle East, but do we really need bases in every country we’ve ever fought in? I mean, I know Germans can be intimidating but, NATO agreement aside, do we really need a base there? Last I checked, they’ve been our allies for the past 50 or so years. Not to mention our military is larger than the next ten countries (all allies) combine with A LOT left over. Of course other cuts would be harder for me to make but I’d like to think I’d have a good team to sort out which programs are inefficient or have redundancies.
As for the generation of revenue, I’d propose a relatively small and proportional-to-income increase in everyone’s taxes. Basically if you make minimum wage or less, your taxes would increase an incredibly slight amount, say from 15% to 16%. If you’re middle class they’d go up from 28% to 31% and if you’re in the highest bracket making over $400,000 a year you’ll go from 39.6% to 45%. I know that sounds awful but think about how this revenue would allow the government to pay down some of its debt AND better fund the remaining programs. Perhaps I’m naive, but in my extremely simplified world it seems like a win-win. Higher taxes can suck but so does having a government sink even higher into debt. If there is one political thing I learned while in Dublin last spring it’s this: austerity doesn’t work. Just ask the Germans after World War I. I don’t feel like I’m asking for a miracle when the Dems and GOP can come together rather than what looks me like the Dems just bending over and taking it from the GOP.
Finally I promised Emily I’d post her haiku on the matter:
Oh the sequester/Full of many funding cuts/Why do you exist?