Email letters, Sept. 21, 2012

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Mark Habenicht’s “Americans must face up to national debt or suffer consequences” and Hal Mason’s “Washington isn’t telling Americans just how bad federal deficit is” raise legitimate and challenging questions about our fiscal future.

Habenicht’s problem is NOT that “the federal government has no money”, it’s that “conservative” Republicans – beginning with President Ronald Reagan – have been deliberately depriving the federal government of the resources it needs to function,
which in turn has shifted increasing financial burdens onto state and local governments.

While we cannot expect “the rich to pay all our debt”, it’s one thing to meekly pay lip service to a “progressive tax system”, but quite another to enforce that “progressivity” by eliminating the loopholes that allow “the rich” (including Mitt Romney) to pay far less than published tax brackets would nominally require.  Moreover, Tea Party Republicans (including Scott Tipton) – having pledged their allegiance to Grover Norquist rather than to their oaths of office – refuse to consider any “revenue enhancements”.

As Mason may recall, in 2000, V.P. and presidential candidate Al Gore sought to end the practice of using Social Security surpluses to fund the federal government by advocating a “lock box” to sequester that surplus – but was ridiculed by Republicans.  George Bush then persuaded the American electorate to try another dose of massive deficit spending.

As for cash versus accrual accounting, the only long term remedy (if any) is really robust economic growth – not fudging growth rates on spreadsheets (ala Reagan and Paul Ryan) – to prove that more tax cuts will “pay for themselves” with “trickle down” prosperity.

In the shorter run, 70% of Americans already agree that a “balanced approach” must be undertaken sooner rather than later – but partisan Republicans still stall.

Readers interested in better understanding these complex issues should try the “Federal Budget Challenge” exercise at

                Bill Hugenberg

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