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report print email Source: Editorial: We need know the facts to solve America’s problems
The facts are out there is you are willing to look...
June 14, 2011 | 02:18 PM

The facts regarding our nation’s national debt are out there and are relatively easy to find. Here is a quick summary of several relevant facts that anyone with an internet connection can find:
1) Our nation’s $14.4 trillion deficit has been growing as a result of annual deficit spending for most of the last 30 years, long before Barack Obama became President. When George W. Bush took office in 2001, the national debt was at $5.8 trillion; when he left office it had risen to $11.9 trillion.
2) By the end of President Obama’s first term in 2013, it is estimated that the national debt will climb to $17.5 trillion.
3) In terms of government run health care programs, for the year 2000 federal spending for health care (including the programs of Medicare and Medicaid) represented 19.5% of the entire federal budget, which at the time included no costs for wars in Afghanistan or Iraq. For the 2009 Federal Budget (pre “Obama Care”), federal spending for the Health Care consumed 22% of all spending. Government run single payer health care is now the largest expense for the federal government.
4) For 2010, 13% of the US population was over the age of 65; for 2030 the percentage of the US population over the age of 65 is expected to increase to 19%. This statistic is critical in any discussion relating to Medicare, government financed nursing home care through Medicaid and Social Security.

The following is an analysis of this data –
As stated in Lisa’s column, “You can't solve a problem you don't know or believe is there”. Well, we have a serious problem in that spending consistently exceeds revenues.
Contrary to the opinion of many, both Republicans and Democrats are to blame for the excessive spending that has created this national debt. For example, Republican / Conservative Congressman Paul Ryan was instrumental in the passage of several “big government” programs including the No Child left Behind Act (more federal spending for local education), the Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act (the largest expansion of entitlement spending since the administration of President Lyndon Johnson), the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (the $700 billion bailout for the financial sector) and the Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act (the auto industry bail-out).

While Congressman Ryan has been criticized for his plan to restructure Medicare, no one else seems to be offering any other valid options. The bottom line is that “staying the course” will eventually lead to more deficit spending, which will transfer more of our current financial burdens to our children and grandchildren.

If the American people are not willing to accept cuts in costly entitlement programs such as Medicare, then taxes must be raised to meet expenses. However, the idea that we can tax the rich and businesses to solve our budgetary problems threatens to eliminate more private sector jobs and does not address the inequities in our current tax system in which 51% of Americans paid no income tax.

These inequities include profitable businesses and wealthy Americans who paid no income taxes due to deductions and loopholes, along with lower income individuals whose earnings are not taxed.

The idea that a majority of American’s can elect leaders who vote to increases the size of government while paying little or no in income taxes is a recipe for fiscal disaster as there is no incentive whatsoever to reduce spending. In order to bring equity to our tax system, it is time to bring an end to all deductions and loopholes and to adopt a flat rate tax system in which all incomes, including payroll, business profits, capital gains and inheritances are all taxed at the same rate.

As for the rate of taxation, this rate should be set during the annual budget process with the goal of having revenues meeting expenditures (the way in which local governments determine annual property tax rates).

Once all Americans are paying their fair share to support the services that government provides, we as nation will be in a much better position to determine how much we can expect the government to do for us.

James from Lake Geneva
Walworth County