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
  • Welfare state grows as self-sufficiency declines

    For the past 50 years, the government’s annual poverty rate has hardly changed at all. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 15 percent of Americans still live in poverty, roughly the same rate as the mid-1960s when the War on Poverty was just starting.
    After adjusting for inflation, federal and state welfare spending today is 16 times greater than it was when President Lyndon B. Johnson launched the War on Poverty. If converted into cash, current means-tested spending is five times the amount needed to eliminate all official poverty in the U.S.
    How can the government spend so much while poverty remains unchanged? The answer is simple: The Census Bureau’s “poverty” figures are woefully incomplete.

    August 1, 2014

  • Let laughter reign in Turkey

    This week, Bulent Arinc, the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, verbally chastised Turkish women for laughing in public. Before we take a closer look at these remarks — in the interest of full disclosure — I need to confess a personal bias. I love to hear my wife’s laughter. Sometimes, when I review the day’s highlights, the most pleasant thing that comes to mind is her laugh — it’s frequent, genuine, pleasantly-pitched, melodious, appropriately timed, infectious and charming.

    August 1, 2014

  • Is English getting dissed?

    Is the English language being massacred by the young, the linguistically untidy and anyone who uses the Internet? Absolutely.
    Is that anything new? Hardly.
    Many words and expressions in common parlance today would have raised the hackles of language scolds in the not-so-distant past. For evidence, let’s look at some examples from recent newspaper articles.

    July 31, 2014

  • 'Too big to fail' equals 'too eager to borrow'

    Four years ago this month, President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Act into law, promising that the 848-page financial law would “put a stop to taxpayer bailouts once and for all,” he said. But recently, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren told a Detroit crowd that “the biggest banks are even bigger than they were when they got too big to fail in 2008.”
    Who’s right?

    July 30, 2014

  • Sheltons travel for better life for family

    Some time around 1865 a mixed-race African American couple, William and Mary Shelton, made their way from Mississippi to east Texas. Nothing is known for certain of their origins in he Magnolia state, or the circumstances under which they began their new lives in Texas.

    July 29, 2014

  • Film critic Turan produces book

    Kenneth Turan, who is the film critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” has written a book “Not to be Missed, Fifty-Four Favorites from a Life Time of Film.” His list of movies span the gamut from the beginnings of filmmaking through the present day.
    There are some surprising omissions on his list. While he includes two films, “A Touch of Evil” and Chimes at Midnight” made by Orson Welles, and one, “The Third Man,” that Welles starred in but did not direct. He did not however, include “Citizen Kane,” that was the first movie Welles made, that is  often cited by both film critics and historians as a favorite film.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County’s disputed zone

    Watchers of “Star Trek” may recall the episode from the original series entitled, “Day of the Dove.” In this episode, Captain Kirk and his crew are forced by a series of circumstances into a confrontation with the Klingons. The conflict eventually resolves after Kirk realizes that the circumstances have been intentionally designed by an alien force which feeds off negative emotions, especially fear and anger. Kirk and his crew communicate this fact to the Klingons and the conflict subsides. No longer feeding upon confrontation, the alien force is weakened and successfully driven away.

    July 28, 2014

  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at www.edmondsun.com show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014

Poll

The runoff race for the 5th District congressional seat is set for Aug. 26. If the voting were today, which candidate would you support?

Al McAffrey
Tom Guild
Undecided
     View Results