The Edmond Sun

Opinion

October 26, 2012

Los Angeles Times: CEOs to D.C.: Get serious

LOS ANGELES — Chief executives of more than 85 major U.S. corporations jumped into the debate over the federal budget mess Thursday, calling on Washington to put its fiscal house in order by raising tax revenue, cutting spending, controlling the growing cost of healthcare entitlements and assuring the sustainability of Social Security. They endorsed a set of principles, not specific policy proposals, and they tiptoed around the question of how to take the steps they’ve recommended without damaging the fragile economy. But the path they charted is the same one that a growing number of bipartisan groups have been advocating for more than two years. Although the details won’t be easy to agree on, the framework of a grand compromise should by now be obvious to lawmakers.

In fact, it should have been obvious long ago. Seemingly every group not wedded to a particular ideology that has looked at the federal government’s long-term deficit and debt problems has come to the same set of conclusions.

First, the government’s current trajectory is unsustainable. Second, the most significant threat over the long term is rising healthcare costs in Medicare and Medicaid. And third, Washington’s budget gap is too wide to be closed just by slashing spending. Congress also needs to increase revenue, preferably by curbing the profusion of exemptions, preferences, credits and deductions in the tax code.

Nevertheless, top lawmakers worked in vain for months last year on proposals to bring the deficit and debt under control, unable to agree even on the outlines of a deal. Too many Republicans were anchored to a pledge never to raises taxes — a promise based less on economics than on the politics of winning a GOP primary.

And now their party’s standard-bearer in the presidential race, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, says he too would oppose any increase in revenue. His arithmetically challenged formula for deficit reduction involves lowering tax rates without reducing revenue, while increasing the defense budget and slashing domestic programs. Good luck with that.

Not that President Obama and his Democratic allies have been blameless. They’ve been so determined to end the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy, they’ve paid little attention to the need for a tax overhaul.

Meanwhile, the economy remains stuck in first gear, keeping unemployment high and tax revenue low. Without faster economic growth, Washington will never be able to solve its fiscal problems.

Yet instead of encouraging growth, the federal government may slam the brakes on the economy in January, when a series of huge tax hikes and across-the-board spending cuts are scheduled to take effect. This looming “fiscal cliff” is the ugly result of Congress repeatedly putting off tough budget decisions.

The powerful incentives provided by the fiscal cliff should persuade lawmakers to accept the principles laid out most recently by the chief executives in the nonpartisan Campaign to Fix the Debt. That’s just the starting point, of course; other obvious points of contention are how deeply to cut spending and what to cut. So too is how to shift from stimulus to deficit reduction without stunting the economy.

Still, simply having a plan that lays out future changes in taxes and spending would help dispel the uncertainty over federal policy that is hampering economic growth. The sooner lawmakers accept the path laid out by groups like Fix the Debt, the better.

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Opinion
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Why poverty across the world matters to Americans

    A child starving in South Sudan should matter to Americans. That was the message delivered last week by Nancy Lindborg, whose job at the U.S. Agency for International Development is to lead a federal bureau spreading democracy and humanitarian assistance across the world.
    That world has reached a critical danger zone, with three high-level crises combining military conflict with humanitarian catastrophes affecting millions of innocents in Syria, the South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
    But back to that child.

    April 18, 2014

  • Government leadership complicit in overfilling prisons

    One of the thorniest problems facing any society is the question of what to do with transgressors. Obviously, the more complicated a culture becomes, the more factors come into play in trying to figure out what to do with those who choose not to “play by the rules.”

    April 18, 2014

  • My best days are ones normal people take for granted

    It is a weekend for working around the house. My fiancee, Erin, and I have the baby’s room to paint and some IKEA furniture to assemble. I roll out of bed early — 10:30 — and get into my wheelchair. Erin is already making coffee in the kitchen.
    “I started the first wall,” she says. “I love that gray.” Erin never bugs me about sleeping late. For a few months after I was injured in the Boston Marathon bombings, I often slept 15 hours a day. The doctors said my body needed to heal. It must still be healing because I hardly ever see 8 a.m. anymore.

    April 18, 2014

  • Instead of mothballing Navy ships, give them to our allies

    A bitter debate has raged in the Pentagon for several months about the wisdom of taking the nuclear aircraft carrier George Washington out of service to save money. The Washington, at 24 years old a relatively young vessel, is due for a costly refit, a routine procedure that all of the 11 large carriers in service undergo regularly.

    April 18, 2014

  • The pessimist’s guide to grizzly bears and Earth Day

    This coming Friday, to “celebrate Earth Day,” the Walt Disney Co. will release one of those cutesy, fun-for-all-ages, nature documentaries. “Bears” is about grizzly bears.
    The trailer says, “From DisneyNature comes a story that all parents share. About the love, the joy, the struggle and the strength it takes to raise a family.”
    Talk about your misguided “Hollywood values.” I previously have acknowledged a morbid, unreasonable fear of grizzly bears, stemming from a youth misspent reading grisly grizzly-attack articles in Readers Digest. This fear is only morbid and unreasonable because I live about 1,500 miles from the nearest wild grizzly bear. Still. ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Digging out of the CIA-Senate quagmire

    Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., voted to declassify parts of its report on the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program. The White House, the CIA and the Senate still have to negotiate which portions of the report will be redacted before it is made public. But this is an important step in resolving the ugly dispute that has erupted between the intelligence committee and the intelligence agency.
    The dispute presents two very serious questions. Was the program consistent with American values and did it produce valuable intelligence? And is effective congressional oversight of secret activities possible in our democracy?

    April 15, 2014

  • Los Angeles Times: Congress extend jobless benefits again

    How’s this for irony: Having allowed federal unemployment benefits to run out in December, some lawmakers are balking at a bill to renew them retroactively because it might be hard to figure out who should receive them. Congress made this task far harder than it should have been, but the technical challenges aren’t insurmountable. Lawmakers should restore the benefits now and leave them in place until the unemployment rate reaches a more reasonable level.

    April 14, 2014

  • Many nations invested in Israel

    Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Yoram Ettinger recently spoke to a gathering at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life and Learning in Oklahoma City. The event began with a presentation by Rabbi Ovadia Goldman, who told the attendee that the  upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover was an occasion for them to embrace the children of God, which is all of humanity.

    April 14, 2014

  • Coming soon: More ways to get to know your doctor

    Last week, the federal government released a massive database capable of providing patients with much more information about their doctors.
    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the government agency that runs Medicare, is posting on its website detailed information about how many visits and procedures individual health professionals billed the program for in 2012, and how much they were paid.
    This new trove of data, which covers 880,000 health professionals, adds to a growing body of information available to patients who don’t want to leave choosing a doctor to chance. But to put that information to good use, consumers need to be aware of what is available, what’s missing and how to interpret it.

    April 14, 2014

  • HEY HINK: Hateful bullies attempt to muffle free speech

    Hopefully we agree it should be a fundamental right to voice criticism of any religion you wish. And you should have the right to sing the praises of any religion you choose. If criticism of religion is unjust, feel free to make your best argument to prove it. If criticism is just, don’t be afraid to acknowledge and embrace it. If songs of praise are merited, feel free to join in. If not, feel free to ignore them. But no American should participate in curbing free speech just because expression of religious views makes someone uncomfortable.

    April 11, 2014

Poll

Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

Agree
Disagree
Undecided
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