Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook 2 Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend (2 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Stats   2 comments, 2 series

OpEdNews Op Eds

Honey, I balanced the Federal Budget! (and you can too)

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 2 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

Must Read 2   Well Said 2   Supported 1  
View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H3 11/16/10

Become a Fan
  (69 fans)


The Money Tree

(this is a republication of a previously published article. I thought it was timely given the urgency of the debt ceiling crisis and the insincerity of debate in Washington over real solutions).

Frankly, I didn't think it would be so easy.

I took the New York Times interactive "Budget Puzzle: You Fix the Budget" challenge, thinking it would give me a host of draconian choices between tossing widows and orphans on the street and abandoning needed infrastructure fixes etc. No, nothing of the sort. You can see my results here:
NY Times Balance the Budget Survey

and take the test yourself here:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/11/13/weekinreview/deficits-graphic.html

By 2015, I had achieved a $730 billion surplus, and by 2030, nearly $2 Trillion, and I was just getting started (see below).

I mostly cut military expenditures, and if I had had the choice, I would have reduced troop levels in Iraq/Afghanistan much more quickly and thoroughly then the Times allowed only to 30,000 by 2013. In its partial place, I would support money for Afghan/Iraq secular schools, microloans (supervised so that excessive levels of interest are not imposed, but mostly using already existing lenders like Kiva, Grameen Bank etc.). These would be built and staffed by local populations as in the model of Rory Stewart's "Three Cups of Tea." This would obviously add some costs, but far, far less, and would have much, much greater "bang for the buck" in lasting changes, especially for the oppressed female half of the population.

I cut Social Security benefits, but only to the wealthiest, who live longer, have other resources, and take more benefits anyway. This is a debatable cut, and I might be willing to give on this one if there were enough savings elsewhere. What I am NOT willing to do is eliminate the option for retirement at 62 for those who are just too worn out to work longer and need immediate benefits there is a huge difference, up to 20 years, in longevity between an upper middle class office worker and a lower middle class factory worker, and there has to be a Safety Net below which Americans are simply not allowed to fall. Ever. No matter their bad economic choices in life.

There is also little point in raising the retirement age much more than it is now (67 for the youngest workers, 66 & 8 months for me), until it can be proven that a substantial number of people will live a healthy life into their 80s and 90s. I did allow for raising the age to 68 (but not 70), but only over time (the Times' interactive doesn't say when, but I wouldn't accept it before 2030, and then only if the other options for Medicare and early retirement are retained).

I would also allow payroll taxes above $106,000 for the first time (though the Times survey didn't say how much above; I would eliminate the cap entirely). Since this would provide too much money into Social Security, I would enact a payroll tax CUT across the board that would effectively result in a tax break for 97% of workers making near or below the current cap, while making the top 3% pay their fair share for the first time. The government should only be concerned about keeping this popular and necessary safety net solvent , and should not be in the business of "picking winners" by imposing an arbitrary cap above which no payroll taxes are paid. Imagine if we did that with Income taxes, saying people making more than $106,000 should pay no taxes above that amount! Would that be fair?!

Oh, that's another thing. I rolled back the Capital Gains taxes to Clinton-era levels. We had the most powerful stock market and economy in modern American history in the 1990s; there is absolutely no reason to believe that rewarding money-hoarding millionaires and billionaires by letting them invest in the FIRE sectors at 15% capital gains rates, instead of 20%, (or 10% for low income earners), does anything to help the overall economy. For the same reason, I allowed the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for those making $250,000/year just 2% of a given upper-income household's income - but generating $100 billion in savings by 2030.

I indexed Medicare to inflation, which was the biggest savings ($562 Billion by 2030), but to really make healthier Americans, I would direct some of those savings to restoring physical education and/or sports programs to the schools, 5 days a week, 90 minutes a day (to allow for locker room changing times), better nutrition at lunch, for free too (and organic gardens in schools where possible to teach children about their connection to, and appreciation for, the Earth). For the adults, I would direct more Transportation Department funds to cheap bike lanes and other "livable city" options, to encourage both healthier lifestyles and more local shopping and community building, while discouraging use of polluting autos and clogged streets.

I would create panels, staffed by doctors, consumers, and other health providers, to measure medicine by outcome by efficacy. While these have to be structured carefully so as not to become the dreaded "death panels," they can also be a way to check the growth in me-too pharmaceuticals that are created just to exploit patent loopholes, while providing no health benefits over patent-expired drugs, and doing so at a much higher cost. I would direct Medicare to pay for generics unless there was a medical reason not to do otherwise, which would have to be clearly delineated by the prescribing doctor. I would allow for properly inspected foreign sourced drugs to be imported. A similar set of analysis would need to be undertaken with respect to surgeries or other therapies. To make up for the reduction in incentives to discover new therapies these changes would entail, I would beef up the FDA and improve the approval time by one third. I would also consider lengthening the drug patent time by up to 25% for truly new and novel therapies that enhanced treatment outcomes significantly (the phrase "25 for 25' comes to mind, as in "approve a drug for a 25% longer patent if it provides a 25% longer survival rate"). I support the recent Appeals Court decision not to allow patents on genes. These are products of nature, except where created anew, and should not be patented, only the inventions using them should be.

I imposed a carbon tax to encourage development of renewable energy sources.

I taxed banks according to a riskiness assessment of their investments (this has to be worked out).

Next Page  1  |  2

 

Take action -- click here to contact your local newspaper or congress people:
Balance the budget but based on human needs

Click here to see the most recent messages sent to congressional reps and local newspapers

http://newthinking.blogspot.com/

Scott Baker is a Managing Editor & The Economics Editor at Opednews, and a blogger for Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and Global Economic Intersection.

His anthology of updated Opednews articles was published by Tayen Lane Publishing (March, 2015) and may be found here:
https://tayen-lane.squarespace.com/america-is-not-broke/

Scott is President of Common Ground-NYC (http://commongroundnyc.org/), a Geoist/Georgist activist group. He has written (more...)
 

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon


Go To Commenting

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Follow Me on Twitter

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Obama Explains the FEMA Camps

Was Malaysian Flight MH370 Landed Safely in Afghanistan?

Let the Sun Shine on a State Bank in Florida

Batman, The Dark Knight Rises...and Occupy Wall Street Falls

The Least Productive People in the World

The continuing plight of Malaysian Flight MH370 - 2 month update

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
2 people are discussing this page, with 2 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)
We live in an age of interactivity. How long befo... by Scott Baker on Tuesday, Nov 16, 2010 at 11:56:18 AM
I took the quiz several years ago as well and Scot... by James Tennier on Monday, Aug 26, 2013 at 11:04:53 PM