Looming deficits will require both tax hikes, especially on the upper class who have seen their tax responsibility slashed over the past 30 years while their incomes soared, and spending reductions in the biggest program elephants in the room. Michael Gerson, of course, doesn’t, speak of tax fairness or returning to the levels when America’s economy was at its zenith. It needn’t be one or the other. But at least Gerson has the cuts right.
There can be no serious reduction in federal spending without entitlement reform. Social Security and Medicare eventually will need to be transformed from middle-class entitlements given because of age to entitlements given to those with lower incomes.
…Necessary changes will not resemble the relatively painless deficit reduction deals of 1990 or 1993. This round may require not only the means testing of Social Security and Medicare but also the reduction or elimination of middle-class entitlements such as the mortgage interest deduction and the employer health-care exclusion.
I agree with all four cuts. But then he suggests the number of public employees must be reduced. Do we really need fewer financial and environmental regulators? Do we need fewer teachers and police officers? Can we get buy with fewer road repairs, snowing plowings, median mowings and parole officers?
I bring up the last four because they are of particular interest in my locality. I’m attending a meeting tonight about what local organizations can do to get the grass mowed on our highway medians, which grows so high due to dwindling funds in the highway department responsible for maintaining them that site lines are obscured, creating traffic hazards. My neighbors were upset about the lack of snow plowing during the past winter’s storms, which left many streets pot-marked—and still that way three month later. And last week, some neighbors learned that a convicted sexual offender had rented a house immediately across from our local elementary school. They were all up in arms and contacted the local parole office. Within a day or so, the parole officer apprehended the man for violating the terms of his parole. There are a lot of communities who can’t afford that level of service.
With more oil spills, stock meltdowns, and sexual predators in our communities, if Gerson gets his way, people may yearn for the days when we had adequate government.