Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Federal candidates must be willing to cut spending and raise taxes

Now that candidates for federal office in Arizona have been winnowed to the parties’ nominees, it’s time to make them admit some cold, hard facts about the economy, tax policy and federal spending and then make them say what they’re going to do about it.

Over the next two months, we’re going to hear a lot of rhetoric about important issues, such as immigration control and global warming, that don’t really matter when it comes to the single issue Americans care about the most – economic prosperity and security.

Unless we have a growing economy we can’t pay for all the things we want from the government. And, counter-intuitively, unless we get control of deficit spending, we can’t grow the economy to provide us the money we need for the government because the enormous debt and deficit spending wreaks havoc on financial markets and other sectors of the economy.

Any business whose debt is at 100 percent of total company worth – revenues and assets – teeters on bankruptcy.

Our nation is teetering. Our $14 trillion national debt is at 100 percent of our annual economic output. The last time we had this much debt and were spending this much in relation to GDP was during World War II.

To balance the budget, or, actually, to unbalance it to the other side so we have budget surpluses to pay down the debt, we must cut spending and raise taxes (and not just on the rich, everyone needs to pay more).

You can’t do it with just one of those options – too many spending cuts and you kill the government. Too many tax increases and you kill the economy (a Depression is a still a possibility).

Next year, the government is expected to spend about $1.3 trillion more than it will collect in taxes.

Here’s the brutal truth – almost 100 percent of the roughly $2.4 trillion in total federal revenue next fiscal year will be spent on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the Defense Department and interest on the national debt.

If you kept spending on those programs flat and taxes the same and eliminated the rest of the federal government – the national parks, the Justice Department, the Border Patrol, oil platform safety investigators, egg inspectors and so on – you might have a balanced budget. Until next year, when mandatory spending on Social Security and a few million more Baby Boomer retirees put the budget in the red again.

That’s completely unrealistic and not an option no matter how many Tea Party extremists might like it to be.

The issue of federal spending is one every American must address, whether they’re old and collecting Social Security, poor and getting free health care, or young and looking at a future of economic insecurity.

The only way to balance the budget or create a surplus is to drastically reduce entitlement and defense spending and raise taxes.

If any congressional or Senate candidate says otherwise in the next two months, they’re either dishonest or delusional and not worth voting for.

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