Senator Lamar Alexander: Raising the National Debt Ceiling

Hearing a Republican Senator or Representative respond with an open mind to questions about the current debt ceiling negotiations is becoming a rare event. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed the interview with Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee on C-SPAN. Instead of hearing the ‘my-way-or-no-way’ rhetoric of the Tea Party, I heard sincere talk.

Lamar Alexander was elected Senator in 2003. He was the first governor (of TN) to be elected US Senator.

Senator Alexander stated that he favored the Medicare plan that allows people to opt for their own private insurance instead of Medicare. This statement intrigued me because it is the first time (this year 2011) I know of that a Republican Congressman did not advocate the utter destruction of Medicare. He stated that Ryan’s Medicare plan was not part of the current negotiations. I interpret this as meaning that Medicare benefits may be reduced but not eliminated for those under 55 years old. Contrary to what the Tea Party states, there are alternatives to the total destruction of Medicare.

Senator Alexander would not rule out tax increases as part of the current debt ceiling negotiations. Let me clarify this. The Senator did not say he would support tax increases. He simply stated that they may be part of the negotiations. He also talked about the possibility of reducing tax expenditures.

The answer to our debt ceiling crisis and our budget is to lower more expenses than just discretionary spending, decrease subsidies and expand government revenues. Many ideas have been considered including reducing or eliminating the IRS tax standard exemptions, eliminating energy subsidies and widening the tax base.

Senator Alexander is willing to wait for the results of the current debt ceiling negotiations before stating his position on it. He stated that the most likely result will be 2 trillion dollars in savings. He is approaching the debt ceiling negotiations with an open mind.

Apparently, the Tea Party is being side-stepped primarily because of their inflexibility. Once again, the actual bill that will presented to Congress will be opposed by the Tea Party. However the opposition will not succeed at defeating the bill.

My idea of raising government revenues is to establish a annual minimum IRS tax that must be paid by every employed person. The amount of tax due would be based on employee’s income. The tax tables in the IRS tax forms would have to be modified to include all income levels.