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Works and Days

Change We Can Believe In

November 29th, 2009 - 9:24 am

So, fellow critics of Obama, what would we do instead? It is easy to harp, as Obama did in 2007-8, but hard to govern, as Obama learned in 2009. So for all the criticism, let us put up some sample proposals of our own.

Ok, try the following.

1. Pay as you go, balanced budget—whatever you wish to call a return to fiscal sanity. Conservatives need to stop talking about tolerable deficits in terms of GDP; and liberals should cease the charade that trillion-plus annual borrowing is great stimulus.

The psychological effect on the American people of paying down the debt through annual surpluses would be incalculable. “Decline” is as much psychological as real, and begins with perceptions of financial insolvency. We have a $11 trillion economy, so balancing the books is not impossible. Note how Obama intends to “address the deficit” only after he has set two budgets that will increase it by nearly four trillion dollars. Note how Bush’s sin of running up large annual deficits is used to excuse Obama’s mortal sin of doubling them. Note how Democrats, after lining up for a trillion-dollar federal take-over of health care, are worried about a multi-billion dollar expense in Afghanistan.  Cuts in defense, as the later Romans knew, are always the first reaction to profligate domestic spending and entitlement.

2. Freeze federal spending at the present rate, and let increased revenues balance the budget. The idea that we could ever cut outright the budget seems long ago impossible—given the culture of complaint and the melodramatic rants about starvation and murder if another entitlement is not granted. Still, some sort of leadership is required to remind the American people that much of what their government does is not just unnecessary, but counter-productive and they would be better off without it.

Apparently, Obama simultaneously believes (a) he can create a permanent loyal constituency of millions who either receive or disperse federal “stimulus”, in the fashion of the old Roman turba; (b )he can borrow so much money that higher taxes will be seen as vital and therefore the original intent of income redistribution accomplished; (c) that, having had little experience in the private sector, but much financial success as a community or government employee, he can assume that money comes out of thin air and is to be dispersed non-stop through public benefaction; (d) the upper-middle class, which strives to be as rich as he is, is somehow culpable. A common theme throughout history is a paradoxical hatred of the equestrian, productive class, by both the idle aristocratic and entitlement constituents, who hand in glove need each other.

3. Some sort of fair or flat tax that ends the trillion-dollar industry of tax preparation, avoidance, and fraud.  For about a quarter of the population April 15 is a spooky sort of Halloween. Instead, we need a tax system in which one can complete the necessary preparation in about 2 hours. Whose bright idea was it to excuse nearly half the American households from income tax exposure (Clinton and Bush, and now Obama?)—a fact that explains why in Pavlovian fashion recently Senators have been saying that we can add on a new war tax, a health-care surcharge, and a new high rate on “them”? The justification of a 40% income tax, 10% state income tax, 15.3% payroll tax, and new war and health care surcharge taxes can only be that one’s income was undeserved, ill-gotten, and thus better “rectified” by more enlightened federal redistributors.

4. Close the borders to illegal immigration, through completion of the fence, biometric IDs, employer sanctions, beefed up enforcement—coupled with a radical change in legal immigration law that favors education and skill, rather than simply family ties. The present mockery of existing law undermines the sanctity of every law. Those who knowingly break immigration laws, and know that they will not in the future be enforced, naturally assume that other laws likewise will not apply to them, from tax reporting to the vehicle code. We really must ask—why the national outcry over whether illegal aliens will be included in the new health care plan when $50 billion is sent back as remittances to Latin America each year? In rough math, each of the supposedly 11 million illegal aliens sends out on average around $4000-5000 per year southward. Perhaps we could tax remittances to fund their health care? Something is strange about the attitude of “I must send $400-500 a month home to support my family, but now I am broke and need someone to pay for my care at the emergency room, etc.”

5. A can-do energy plan. Offer tax incentives for development of nuclear power. Promote exploitation of gas and oil reserves in, and off, the United States, as a way to transition over 20 years to next generation fuels without enriching our enemies or going broke in the process. I never understood why nuclear power for electricity and natural gas/hybrids for transportation—we could be nearly energy independent through both—were declared environmentally incorrect when dotting pristine fields, deserts, and mountain passes with ugly wind turbines, acres of solar panels, and miles of access roads was considered “green.” Does Obama really think that the truther Van Jones knows more about power production than the head of a natural gas or oil company, or the engineer of a nuclear power plant?

Now the symbolic and randomly odd suggestions:

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