A Laughing Matter
I’ve mostly been quietly observing and digesting all the talk surrounding the (in)famous fiscal cliff. Here on the Right Sphere, Tommy recently suggested that we simply should leap off the fiscal cliff. An argument made by numerous others as well. I don’t know if leaping off the “cliff” would be preferable to whatever deal ends up on the table, so I’m not going to pass judgment on that.
However, I do believe that we all could follow the precedent set by the GOP Senate Minority Leader and have a hearty laugh at the expense of those who put forward fundamentally unserious proposals for dealing with the fiscal mess that is the federal government. Here’s what McConnell had to say:
The top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, revealed to THE WEEKLY STANDARD that he “burst into laughter” when Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner outlined President Barack Obama’s fiscal cliff plan yesterday. McConnell believes the plan is “completely unserious.”
In an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, McConnell elaborated, calling Geithner’s water-carrying “a serious blow to his credibility.” He said the treasury secretary “ought to be embarrassed.”
What people should understand, first of all, is that the “fiscal cliff” really is nothing but a sideshow. Over a decade, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that it will cut federal spending by a whopping $153 Billion. Put that in comparison to the total federal budget over ten years and it appears as the rather tiny amount that it really is.
So instead of focusing on the fiscal cliff, the country should have a serious discussion about how to actually reach a balanced budget and how to, if not cut, then at least significantly reduce the growth of federal spending so that economic growth can catch up and provide the revenue that the federal government will need (Of course, that assumes that we’d also have policies in place that favor economic growth. But I digress)
Just asking the “rich” to pay their “fair share” is not a solution to the fiscal problems that America faces. It’s a campaign slogan and nothing else. In fact, any proposal that engages in class warfare instead of advancing serious solutions deserve nothing but laughter and ridicule.
As Mark Steyn writes this weekend, the United States face a very real choice:
Generally speaking, functioning societies make good-faith efforts to raise what they spend, subject to fluctuations in economic fortune: Government spending in Australia is 33.1 percent of GDP, and tax revenues are 27.1 percent. Likewise, government spending in Norway is 46.4 percent and revenues are 41 percent — a shortfall but in the ballpark. Government spending in the United States is 42.2 percent, but revenues are 24 percent — the widest spending/taxing gulf in any major economy.
You cannot simultaneously enjoy American-sized taxes and European-sized government. One or the other has to go.
I’d add that if America decides to keep European-sized government, and prop it up with European-style taxes, then why would anyone choose to believe that America won’t be relegated to the same level of irrelevancy in world politics as the former great powers of Europe?