and this graph explains why:
But, the best argument that can be made that there will be no solution to the current mess comes from the comments,
RichardThey only way Congress will actually do anything is when we've reached the point of Greece...and there will be no bailout for America...that point will happen about 7-8 years from now...sooner if the idiocy of the current spending levels isn't stopped.
I generally agree with Dan’s assessment here, and one thing I respect most about Cato people is that they try to be intellectually honest and will admit occasional goofs. But allocating blame among the presidents is purely a political exercise. The real question isn’t who to blame. The real question is what to do about it.
Democrats hound ‘terrorist’ Republicans – or Tea Party Republicans – on being inflexible on ‘revenues’. How many Democrats would take the following “deal”? We’ll return everyone to the tax rates (with brackets adjusted for inflation) that existed at the time of the last ‘surplus’, IF the government will cut spending (adjusted SOLELY for inflation and raw population growth) to the levels that existed at that same time.
Ii believe no “insider” Democrat would take that deal, while I believe that the man-on-the-street Democrat would. Why the disparity? Because the “insider” Democrat knows that senior entitlements are rising faster than inflation and population growth because of the baby boom, and reducing spending to the level required to allow for the out-sized growth in those programs would necessitate huge cuts in all other programs (not just defense). Not to mention that it would mean rolling back Medicare Part D, ObamaCare, and the spending on 2 – or 3, depending on how you count – wars.
The corollary is that even rolling back the Bush tax cuts on ALL Americans would not produce the revenue required to support discretionary spending at pre-Bush levels. So I don’t for a second believe the president or anyone else when they say that rolling back the Bush tax cuts on JUST those “millionaires and billionaires” (defined as anyone making more than $250,000…) would ‘solve’ the problem. It doesn’t come close to doing so. Those tax increases are just the beginning. They would have to be.
So let’s grant Democrats their tax increase, for arguments sake. Now, let’s see Democrats balance the budget in 10 years (time since Clinton) without even bigger tax increases… THIS is why you’ve not seen a Democrat propose a serious budget for the past 2+ years, even with tax increases. It would immediately put the lie to the argument that we are taxed too lightly.
We spend – and promise to spend – too much. When Democrats admit this and come to the table with their preferred solution for Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security reform, THEN we can start to debate fixes. Until then, any negotiations would be a waste of time. Of course, until then, the problem just becomes harder to solve as we have less time until the debt bomb explodes.