It seems that our federal government has moved from the brink of the fiscal cliff to the doomsday budget scenario of sequestration. Our national leaders lurch from one budget crisis to the next with no long-term solution or grand plan for addressing our budget problems.
If Congress fails to act, then through the default action of sequestration, which was proposed by the president and supported by the Congress, will go into effect on March 1. This will mean draconian cuts in the defense budget and the budgets of many other federal agencies, which will be carried out with the precision of a dull meat clever. This situation calls for some kind of compromise in the national interest. We have such a compromise which the president has offered in the form of several cuts in federal programs and revenue enhancement through increased taxes on the most wealthy among us. The congressional Republicans have dug in their heels and have stubbornly resisted any plan which involves tax increases. They take this position even though the 39.6 percent income tax rate is at a historical low, and the 15 percent tax on investment income continues to be excessively generous to those privileged few who earn their money through that means. The Republicans ignore the complete range of deductions, credits, and other tax benefits for the rich, which, if corrected, could seriously help to balance our federal budget. The Republicans, furthermore, have eliminated from the discussion on reductions in government spending any military expenditures so that extravagant, irrelevant, and cost-overrunning programs like the F35 Striker aircraft is off the table.
We tried tax reductions for the wealthy as a job stimulator for eight years under the previous president, and it did not work. A major cause of our federal deficit is the overly generous and ineffective tax cuts applied since 2001. If sequestration is allowed to go into effect, our economic recovery will be jeopardized, and any attempt to strengthen education and skill development for the work force will be significantly weakened. Those cuts and other reductions in valuable federal programs, such as transportation, nutrition, and agriculture may push us into another economic crisis. We cannot cut our way into prosperity; they are trying that approach in Greece and Spain, and it is not working.
We just had an election in 2012 when the issue of tax cuts for the most wealthy was hotly debated, and the president won. It is time that the Congress acknowledge this fact, relent, engage the president in a discussion of meaningful and balanced reductions (done with the precision of surgical knife) in some government programs and increased revenue through taxes on the very rich.
I would ask readers to write or call Congressman Bill Johnson, thank him for his vote to avoid the fiscal cliff in January, and urge him to make the decision in our shared national interest to avoid sequestration.