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Published: Tuesday, Oct. 15 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

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E Sam
Provo, UT

So you would support cuts in defense spending and higher taxes to make up the difference?

MadSat
Millington, TN

Section. 7. All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

If the House wishes to cut the budget, the appropriate time is to do so when the budget is prepared. They do not wish to do so becasue that will mean they will have to make decisions about what to cut. Instead, they want to do this insane brinkmanship to force across the board cuts that will come with less political cost.

IOW, the House is trying to game the system. And the Democrats are finally tired of giving in to the game. Bully for them. If you want to claim "party of responsibility", then man up and do the responsible thing and take the consequences or plaudits, whichever they be.

Blue
Salt Lake City, UT

The US military budget is bigger than the next 12 largest defense budgets in the world - combined.

Tax cuts plus two unfunded foreign wars have added many trillions of dollars to the debt.

Start there.

johnapool
Van Buren, MO

The writer of this article is right on the titular point: the debt ceiling is not the problem. The actual problem lies in the spending already done. Congress has always raised the debt ceiling and then spent more money. Now in it's infinite wisdom, some in Congress are doing all they can to cut taxes. Any sane person knows that when you have topped off your credit card, you have to pay it off, not throw up your hands, quit your job and default on your debt.
Congress needs to get on with business and work toward paying off the national debt. The US government is paying over $220 billion a year in interest. Fully one-third of the current deficit is going toward interest. Pay your bills, then talk about cutting taxes. Any discussion about rducing spending should also include increasing taxes until we are out of debt.

TrueAmerican56
Corpus Christi, TX

Where is the talk on cutting military spending? It is one of, if not the main one, cause of the debt and interest on the debt. Its never ever talked about by so called conservatives, why not?

Pete1215
Lafayette, IN

"President Obama cannot continue to recklessly spend money that he doesn’t have." The President doesn't authorize spending. But this article's author is correct, we must stop our delusional thinking that there are enough fools out there that we can borrow forever. We have been deeply sinfull (reckless borrowing), and we either control our spending or our young will suffer the effects of our not controlling our spending.

jkang
Richmond, VA

"The federal debt is important to all of us because it is slowly sapping the vitality and growth out of our economy. Since 1950, the U.S. economy has grown by an average of 3 percent annually but future projections are just above 2 percent and that may not be attainable. At the same time, the federal deficit as a percentage of the overall economy has surged from 26.2 percent in 1980, to 48.3 percent in 1992, to over 100 percent today."

Correlation does not equate to causation. For example, the end of WWII, the debt to GDP ratio was even higher than today, yet the economy expanded at unprecedented rates after that. Which is to say, the author is looking at simplistic solutions for complex problems.

Why are companies not investing in American jobs? Why aren't banks making commercial loans despite sitting on historical reserves? Maybe our leaders should go about answering those questions instead of stoking public opinions toward policy dogma.

pmacdee
newbury Oark, CA

I find it interesting that when the deficit is half of the former projection, then 'everyone is congratulating each other for a dramatic improvement', whereas 'President Obama cannot continue to recklessly spend money that he doesn’t have'. You can't have it both ways. Either Obama is completely responsible for the level of the deficit or he is not. There is no mention, for example, that the public sector workforce has decreased by over 600,000 jobs during Obama's tenure and the same number of public sector jobs were created during the same time period in the Bush presidency. All this talk about smaller government and deficits by the Republicans is just that. Talk.

pragmatistferlife
salt lake city, utah

Paul Samuelson's article today on the debt is excellent. It has sobering thoughts for both Republicans and Democrats. Of course one of the primary problems we have fiscally is most think like Democrats or Republicans not Americans.

Unlike the letter writer he shows many of the true causes of slow economic growth. He talks about the deficit as a consequence of slow growth and not the cause. He also talks about the unsustainability of a society built on continual high economic growth that now fundamentally can't sustain that growth.

Arguments centered on tax cuts, and military spending do nothing to solve the crisis facing us. Expectations need to be adjusted on both sides and both sides need to realize that education and technology are the drivers of modern growth both personally and nationally.

Germany figured it out and is out stripping the rest of the world.

BTW, this is the Presidents economic plan. However, Democrats specifically need to figure out that an aging population has serious consequences for a slower growing economy.

T. Party
Pleasant Grove, UT

There is a point where a taxes becomes punitive, causing total revenues to decrease. We've reached it. (People stop doing economic activities for which they are punished.)

No, the problem is our spending. We will never be able to control spending if we are unwilling to make cuts in the largest budget categories. They are, in order:

1) Health
2) Social Security
3) Defense

The problem is that whenever a leader proposes cutting any of them, his political challengers attack on that point. You get ads showing him throwing Granny off a cliff, etc.

I've been told never to state a problem without also proposing a solution. It is this: the Constitution contains a list of items for which Congress is authorized to tax and spend. We need to vote for people who will stick to the list, and we need to vote against the people who don't.

pschles
USA, ID

Health, Social Security, and Defense have been the traditional winners, but the deck needs to be reshuffled to deal in support of Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation, otherwise we are totally fooling ourselves about importance of the first three. We have already shot ourselves in the foot by not having taken on this challenge at the beginning of the first Obama administration, and now years later, we are in serious trouble!

Hutterite
American Fork, UT

Defense spending cuts and tax increases would be a start. However, our biggest problem is probably climate change. But, I imagine we'll have better luck with the tax increases than even getting climate change acknowledged. Nonetheless, climate change isn't going to wipe out my savings by thursday, so first things first; better get ready to get a bunch of money moved from my US to my Canadian bank.

Kent C. DeForrest
Provo, UT

Another conservative who doesn't grasp the larger economic picture. Let me spell it out. We have an economy that, over the past 30 years, has grown at about 5.7 percent per year (actual dollars), but only at 2.7 percent when adjusted for inflation. This growth has been largely dependent on government borrowing. Without government spending far beyond its means, our economy would be a mess.

What the conservatives don't seem to understand is that government spending does not happen in a vacuum. If you simply slash government spending, which they all want to do in theory (but never in practice), you take a big chunk of the economy away, and you get immediate recession. So taming the deficit by only cutting spending is a recipe for disaster.

At the present, however, contrary to conservative rhetoric, government revenue, as a percentage of GDP, is at its lowest level since 1950 (taxes are too low). Also, federal employment is about 1.8 percent of the overall workforce, less than half of where it was in 1952. Corporate profits, however, are at an all-time high. What does this suggest? See next comment.

Kent C. DeForrest
Provo, UT

This suggests that we have a system that is broken. It has been rigged to funnel wealth to the top, where the so-called "job creators," those darlings of the conservative policy makers, are not actually creating jobs. They are not investing in American industry because there is insufficient demand. There is insufficient demand because the working classes have been squeezed for so long that they cannot buy the stuff corporate America produces (largely overseas).

To get this picture back in balance, we need to restore some semblance of equality in terms of giving workers a fair share of the profits they are creating. This would increase demand, which would spur investment by those who have plenty to invest but aren't. And restoring tax rates to pre-Reagan levels would assist in bringing our federal budget back into balance without simply sucking millions out of the economy (which is the effect of slashing spending). Spending can then be curbed wisely and gradually, particularly by reducing our bloated military, reforming Social Security and Medicare (primarily by means testing), and reducing the demands on the social safety net (because workers earning more would need less help).

SG in SLC
Salt Lake City, UT

Avoiding default and getting our nation's fiscal house in order are equally important issues. It should be obvious that protecting the full faith and credit of the United States by avoiding default is the only truly honorable and sane course of action.

Getting our nation's fiscal house in order will require extensive spending cuts, primarily in defense spending, Social Security, and Medicare. To attempt to achieve this through draconian cuts all at once would be economically devastating; instead, it will need to happen through a series of reasonable strategic cuts that incrementally change the debt trajectory.

Getting our nation's fiscal house in order will also require carefully crafting tax increases that will contribute to incrementally changing the debt trajectory. T. Party said, "There is a point where taxes become punitive, causing total revenues to decrease." This is absolutely true. T. Party also said, "We've reached it." Not even close. The "Laffer Curve" scenario to which T. Party is referring is characterized by extreme tax rates that capture nearly all income (70-75%+), and our current tax rates are at near historic lows.

procuradorfiscal
Tooele, UT

Re: "Without government spending far beyond its means, our economy would be a mess."

Oh, well, then it's a good thing the government has been spending like a drunken sailor all these years, so our economy isn't a mess.

But, wait, our economy IS a mess. So, how's that socialism thing -- you know the one liberals as so fond of trotting out as a "solution" whenever their manufactured crises break -- how does that work, now?

Oh, yeah, collapse the economy. Collapse the military. Collapse the Nation. Then rebuild it as a workers' paradise, where there's a dictatorship of the proletariat. And all our problems go away.

Like they did in Soviet Russia and the Warsaw Pact. And China. And North Korea. And Cuba. And . . . well, EVERY time it's been tried.

Hmmmmm.

s1wells
powell, WY

Good article, good comments, conversation is needed, especially after we vote the bums out. The grandstanding egomaniacs seemed to have lost sight of governance responsibility. I work for an agency that generates revenues and tied to jobs in the local communities. We have seen cuts in both 2012 and 2013 - we still return $24 for every $1 of Appropriation, yet struggle to recruit new staff (private industry pays more, and now it is hard to say their is stability with the Federal jobs).
I believe we need to keep social safety nets, lift the most at risk, and the poor, there will always be the needy - have agencies look for more efficiencies, and given the tools/resources to succeed, and accountable.
Concentrating wealth doesn't seem to be the best answer, but to find balance, avoid pitfalls like we saw with the collapse in 2008 of the housing/financial bubble, Americans should know better and demand more from their Reps in Congress. I also don't believe we can support the world largest Armed Forces, plus $1.3 Trillion for the new F35 stealth fighter jet built with jobs in 45 states, surely money can be invested smarter at home.

T. Party
Pleasant Grove, UT

@SG in SLC "Not even close."

Consider the fact that the Obamacare mandates are taxes. (If not, then Obamacare is unconstitutional.) No one figures in the dollar amounts of these mandates when they calculate tax burden, but this burden is carried by employers nevertheless, and it affects the decisions they make about their own economic growth. It has caused employers to cut back staff; it has caused employers to relegate their staff to part-time positions; it has caused them to delay new hiring; it has induced them to put new investments on hold; it has caused them to raise prices; it has even put people out of business. All of this has a negative effect on tax revenues collected.

A lot of my friends were upset with John Roberts for calling the mandates a tax, but that is exactly what they are. Now we need to take the next step and figure in their costs, along with those of all other government mandates and regulations. That is the total tax burden. And it's large enough to stifle economic growth and -- along with it -- tax revenues.

Robert Riversong
Warren, VT

"the federal deficit as a percentage of the overall economy has surged from 26.2 percent in 1980, to 48.3 percent in 1992, to over 100 percent today."

If Bob Fuehr doesn't understand the difference between the annual budget deficit and the national debt, he has no business commenting.

The annual deficit, as a percentage of GDP, was on a steady and strong decline after WWII until the Reagan and Bush I administrations, during which it took a precipitous rise, dropped under Clinton and then rose dramatically again under Bush II.

Under Dubya, the annual deficit rose from $318 billion to $1.413 trillion. It has been coming down steadily under Obama after FY2011 when the effects of the Bush great recession began to be counteracted by stimulus spending.

christoph
Brigham City, UT

Ten years ago was the first time in our nations's history that we went to war while cutting taxes at the same time. 911 (and war and tax cuts and recession and all people's bad spending habits) bankrupted us

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