I agree with recent comments from the Republican Party about negotiations on the budget and debt ceiling increase. Don’t criticize a plan unless you have a plan of your own. Well, I feel like I can criticize because I do have a plan of my own. Mine makes a lot more since in my opinion.
In the past ten years, we as a society have run up an astonishing $14.3 trillion in debt, and have not come up with a plan to manage it. Republicans want to cut spending across the board, with no entitlement program being safe from cuts. They base this on a desire to reduce the size of the federal government. Democrats want to raise taxes on all high-income earners, and not reform and entitlement programs. They also want to limit any reduction in spending. In my opinion, both are ridiculous.
The president advocates an approach based on both ideas, but his idea of cutting spending is more symbolic in that is capitalizes on savings by not using set aside funds and making no real cuts to anything, all the while raising taxes. This smoke and mirrors type of attitude towards the budget will get us nowhere.
America, it’s time for all of us to suck it up and tighten the belt. That’s right, everyone. We need to reform Medicare and Social Security to make those programs sustainable. If not, we are going to have a nightmare in the future. We also need to reform the IRS. That entails closing loopholes, tax breaks, and deductions on tax returns. Make everyone pay their share based on their income. Yeah, it sucks, but we need to deal with it for the future of our children and society. That being said, here are some of my finer points on the Hodges Budget plan for 2012.
First, fix the IRS. Billions are given out each year in tax refunds. There is potential savings there that can be used to pay off debt. Also, remove tax breaks given to corporations and wealthy individuals. They can pay their share and still be profitable.
Next, make some serious adjustments to Social Security and Medicare. Raise the earliest possible age to retire from age 62 to age 65. Americans are living longer and advances in healthcare have made it possible to work longer. The reflections of these advances should be applied to entitlement programs, and savings used to help sustain the programs. Also, allocate more money the to the Social Security Administration to conduct more disability reviews. According to the Administration, every $1 spent on a review can save $5 or more. This savings can also be applied to long term sustainment of both programs.
Also, require multinational corporations headquartered in the US to repatriate income from business conducted abroad. There are large sums of money that these companies have in foreign countries that they can claim as profits, but do not have to pay taxes on because the income is still on foreign shores. By repatriating this income and collecting the associated taxes, an additional revenue stream can be tapped.
Repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare.) This huge entitlement program to insure all Americans has too much red tape and bureaucratic measures that it is too costly to support. Real reform can be accomplished by making much smaller laws which target specific ways to help insure Americans. For instance, draft a bill that only addresses pre-existing conditions. Instead of using a huge waste of resources and 2000 pages to do this, a simple effective law that does not allow insurance companies to deny a claim based on a pre-existing condition will have more effect.
Even though I am not a fan of increasing the size of the government, a new agency needs created. This agency would be similar to an Internal Affairs agency and a Budget agency combined. They would conduct overall reviews of the entire government. They would determine where the money goes, how it is spent, and who spends it. They would also conduct reviews on agency heads, judges, and politicians to look for any signs of corruption. A final aspect would be to go over and review all the laws in current regulation, and recommend laws for repeal if they are out of date, not essential, or simply too costly to enforce.
One place I see gaining a large amount of revenue is the Department of Corrections. The incarcerated individuals receive three free meals a day, free TV, and free room and board. The typical costs to maintain a prisoner can reach over $30,000 per year. I think Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, AZ, has set a good example. These prisoners don’t deserve to be dependent on the government for everything. They were incarcerated for wrongdoing, and are supposed to be punished for it. Let’s make their time much less enjoyable so they will not return to prison. Tent city prisons would save taxpayer money because they are cheap and easier to maintain and manage. Make them go on chain gangs and clean up highways and do menial labor. This system needs a lot of reform.
Cut foreign aid. Billions of dollars leave America and go to foreign countries for various reasons. If we aren’t doing so well at home, why give our hard earned dollars to another country. Pakistan is an example. They won’t admit it, but they harbored Osama bin Laden all this time. They are also responsible for a lot of the attacks that happen on our soldiers overseas, due to terrorists using Pakistan as a safe haven to launch their attacks from. Why subsidize terrorism? Let’s cut foreign aid and only give money to countries for legitimate causes, like AIDS prevention.
A good overall solution, although would be VERY unpopular, is a federal one cent sales tax. This could potentially generate a large sum over money over a short period of time, all at a very small expense to the taxpayer, who wouldn’t even notice it. This does work. Here in Oklahoma City, the local government has done this to pay for the renovations to the OKC Thunder stadium, and other improvements that make the city more attractive to businesses and tourism. They have raised millions of dollars and a very low expense. The idea is sound and works, why not do it?
Finally, reduce federal spending to 2008 levels, before the recession began. Don’t mess with government employees pay, because the vast majority of those individuals are middle class tax payers just like in the private sector. They deal with a lot of flack because of the fact they are government workers. But if you reduce overall spending across all agencies for standard budgets, like renovation of buildings, new computers, etc., you could save billions of dollars and not hurt any individual worker who is just trying to get by.
If all of these were enacted, and all of the savings/revenue applied to the national debt, America would be on much more solid financial ground. We would not have to resort to cutting major entitlements or risking default. Interest payments on the national debt would be lower and those savings can be applied to rid of us the debt. We need some spending, just not this much. And if we can get the debt to a reasonable amount that is not a drain on the American taxpayer, then the government can reduce taxes to put money back into all of our pockets.