Reducing debt relies on sticking to core party beliefs

Frank Hill Contributor
Font Size:

People who support President Obama and the Democrats should demand they raise the taxes necessary to pay for all this government spending. They want more government: they should propose ways to pay for it.

People who support Republicans or the Tea Party should demand they reduce spending dramatically if they really want smaller government with more limited reach into our daily lives and checkbooks and banking accounts.

If they won’t do even those basic things as political figures, why do we vote them into office anyways? To mystify and amaze us on a daily basis like a ventriloquist who never really ‘says’ what he believes in his heart?

Here is how both political parties should follow their own core beliefs and help reduce this debt enormously and in the process, show you how hypocritical they are when they fail to do the following things:

If the Democrats were truly serious about the debt:

  • They would vote no to any changes to the expiration of every single one of the Bush tax cuts due to expire between the end of this year, December 31, 2010, and 2020. Every one of the Democrat elected leaders who have been squealing and pointing their fingers at the ‘dastardly’ Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 should stand firm in their belief that ‘the Bush tax cuts were terrible for the country’ and allow them all to expire. No vote to grandfather, transition or waiver any repeal of any of these tax cuts which will happen automatically at the end of this year and successively for smaller provisions throughout the decade.
  • None of the Democrats will support or propose any adjustment to the AMT (alternative minimum tax) income thresholds and will instead just let ‘bracket-creep’ or inflation slowly seep into the lower higher-income and then the middle-class income taxpayers’ pockets to extricate more money from them on an annual basis without them ‘really feeling too much pain’.

How much projected increased revenue could be realized if the Democrats were really and truly honest and let these tax provisions expire in total over the next 10 years? $5.6 trillion.

Now that is one way to blow a hole in this enormous debt buildup, isn’t it?

Not indexing the AMT (alternative minimum tax) beginning at the end of this year would eventually bring in perhaps an average of $2000 per year from an additional 40 million taxpayers, up from the 4 million who are hit by it nowadays. (You might be the next to have your wallet sucked up by the AMT vacuum, so watch out!)

If Democrats were really honest about their desire to expand government to provide all of these great services for your fellow Americans, they would allow the AMT to surreptitiously ensnare more and more unsuspecting taxpayers each year and not vote to extend the dastardly tax cuts that President Bush and the GOP Congress passed.

If the Republican Party was truly ‘serious’ about reducing the debt:

  • They would have already introduced Congressman Paul Ryan’s “Roadmap for the Future” Budget for a vote in committee and on the floor of the House.
  • They would also introduce all of the spending options from various sources they could introduce as a package or by line item from the CBO and The Committee for the Fiscal Future of the U.S. There are over $3 trillion in scored proposals we have mentioned previously that can be passed tomorrow to bring our spending more in line with revenues.

But the GOP has failed to do either yet, for some reason. Maybe they are not really serious about reducing these deficits and national debt either, just like the Democrats? Nah, it just makes your brain reel if it had to believe that both major political parties in the United States of America could be so nonchalant about the threats of exploding deficits and compounding interest on the national debt now at $14 trillion and heading higher daily.

Watch them both very carefully on each of these fronts. If you see either side take either respective action, you will know for a fact that they are actually taking this explosive debt seriously and taking action to prevent it from growing even worse.

But just to reiterate, and make it as easy as possible, here are a couple of things Congress could pass this afternoon which would start to reduce the structural deficits in the federal budget and cost next to nothing in terms of outlays from Washington:

  1. Tort reform and malpractice insurance reform will knock the pillars of spiraling cost out of health care inflation and flatten the costs of Medicare and Medicaid which are the two programs that are killing us fiscally. If it ‘only’ saves 1 percent of the health care costs as opponents of tort reform claim, then what are they so afraid of? They will have been proven ‘right’ and we would have still ‘saved’ something like $26 billion per year in overall health care costs in this nation. (We think savings could be as high as $100 billion per year to the federal health programs, Medicare and Medicaid alone.)
  2. Raise the retirement age in both Social Security and Medicare in successive staged increments to 70, with the only exceptions being severe medical or physical handicaps attested by licensed physicians and psychiatrist.
  3. Eliminate the anti-trust exemptions for the health insurance industry (and for Major League Baseball while we are at it…why those two industries are the only two legal exceptions from monopolistic regulations is beyond us anyway) and let the free market work to push prices down across the board.

We really want our elected leaders in Congress to “do the right thing” and reduce spending first to balance the budgets. Maybe if each party would be honest with the American people and put forth proposals like we suggest above, we might have a chance to have a full-blown national debate this year on how to best achieve those goals.

But not if they run and hide and don’t spell out the tough options we have before us. All of the “easy” decisions have been made, and look at where that has gotten us as a nation.

Frank Hill has served as chief of staff to former Congressman Alex McMillan (R-N.C.), House Budget Committee staff, Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform staff, and as chief of staff to former Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.).