Sunday, November 25, 2012

My Meager Attempt to Solve the Federal Budget Crisis

As a self described radical moderate, I have to navigate some choppy waters out in the middle of the raging river.  Yes, I know, that means that I am “all wet” much of the time.  ; )  I may tend to lean to the left on social issues that I feel need to be addressed for the poor and justice.  But I lean right in my concern about fiscal issues that need to be managed for the financial solvency of the nation currently, as well as for future generations.

I believe that budgets are moral documents that should reflect the intentions of the people that populate a nation. I realize much of what I propose here is rather utopian, and certainly would be open to much debate and tweaking before it would ever be realistically considered.  And honestly, we’ll be lucky if only a quarter of these concepts were to get consideration. Additionally, I really have no idea if these numbers would actually add-up to what needs to be done to reduce the massive debt and runaway spending. But I think they would all be steps in the right direction. So, here is what I feel--in my radically moderate worldview--needs to be done to work on the fiscal issues confronting this country.

Over the next ten years, the following cuts need to be phased-in:

1)   Reduce all entitlement programs by 25%. Primarily accomplished through cost-cutting of overhead, overcharges, etc.
2)   Reduce military spending by 50% (we currently spend more on military than the rest of the world COMBINED).
3)   Reduce foreign aid to advanced nations by 75%.
4)   No more corporate welfare (like tax cuts to oil companies, mega-farms, etc).
5)   Drastically reduce the overlap and redundancy in government programs. This might pocket at least 5% in savings per year.

Over the same time period, phase-in these tax reforms:

1)   Create and enforce a much simpler tax code based primarily on some basic flat rate (probably around 20%) with very few deductions.
2)   Raise the retirement age to 67.
3)   All businesses pay a 25% fixed tax rate.
4)   All non-profits (including churches) begin paying a 10% tax rate on their income as well as annual property taxes.
5)   All investments get taxed at 20% per year on whatever gains they generate in a given year.
6)   Have a ½ of 1% tax levied on every single trade made on Wall Street.  Whether it is a $200 purchase on several shares of stock, or massive multi-million dollar transaction.
7)   No more out-of country tax shelters unless you have exclusive citizenship elsewhere.
8)   Increase tariffs on products imported from overseas that are also manufactured in this country.
9)   The federal government will be required to have a balanced budget each year--if not, all members of congress will be dismissed with no life-long benefits.
10)  After this is implemented, if there is a certain point where the deficit is reduced and there begins to be a surplus, then put to a public vote the idea of universal healthcare.
11)   Also, if the surplus continues to grow, then there will be once-a-year refund checks sent to everyone based on splitting half of that surplus according the amount that they put into the pie in that previous year. For instance, the people who paid the most in taxes would get the largest refund. The people who paid the least would get the smallest refunds. But this only happens when there is a surplus.
12)  If the deficit grows again, no refunds.

While I’m at it, here are a few other areas that need to be addressed:

Election reform:

1)   There will be massive campaign finance reform where candidates will have a preset maximum cap on what they can spend based on the population of their constituencies. 
2)   Citizens United will be repealed, so no outside money allowed to be spent, either. 
3)   Campaign season for general elections will last 6 weeks.  For primaries it will be 4 weeks for each state/district.
4)   If any candidates are found to exceed these boundaries, they will immediately be removed from the ballot, and all remaining campaign monies in their coffers will be seized.

Lobbying reform:

1)   No more lobbyists.
2)   Only private citizens will be allowed to interact with government employees.
3)   No money will be given to government workers outside of their salary for any reasons whatsoever. If they are found to be doing so, they not only forfeit their jobs and pensions, they also go to prison for five years.

OK, feel free to comment.  Please be kind to me and each other.  I am not posting this to create some sort of political firestorm.  I would just like some thoughtful give and take and what our options are moving forward.  Let’s keep things good-natured, open-minded to various concepts, and let’s keep it focused on the items listed above.  The challenges we face should not be defined by political party or persuasion.  We’re all in this boat together, and hopefully we can solve it together.  : )

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