Archived Story

Americans want to have it both ways [UPDATED]

Published 9:33am Tuesday, September 4, 2012 Updated 11:35am Tuesday, September 4, 2012

When push comes to shove, American taxpayers and politicians cave in and kick the deficit mess down the road so that our children and grandchildren can pick up the pieces.

We refuse to give up or pay for our sacred cows.

We want to have our cake and eat it, too. Even here in Otter Tail County, we’re in favor of cutting the other person’s federal program, but not ours.

“Since we’re living on borrowed money, we have to owe someone. China is one of those someones,” says David Walker, former Comptroller General of the United States.

Walker said that if we don’t end up reforming our ways, federal taxes will have to double within the next 20 to 30 years, just to stop the bleeding. Every American worker’s share of the national debt is more than $90,000.

“Interest on the national debt, if we don’t take immediate action, will soon be the largest item in the federal budget,” said Walker. “And you get nothing for it.”

In 2010 Republican states, on average, received $1.46 in federal spending for every tax dollar paid in. Democratic states, on average, received $1.16.

The federal government must make regular interest payments on the money it has borrowed to finance past deficits . In 2011, these interest payments claimed $230 billion, or about six percent of our federal budget.

Political inaction will result in the United States facing higher borrowing costs in the future, in the form of hikes in interest rates.

Financial analysts say this could hamper the American economy and result in a further slowdown in economic activity.

The Simpson-Bowles Commission’s work included ways to save trillions of dollars. Republicans and Democrats on the commission recommended deep domestic spending cuts, revamping programs like Medicare and Social Security and initiating new tax revenues.

Republicans refuse to budge on tax increases and Democrats refuse to make some necessary program cuts. The Chinese and others benefit from our fiscal irresponsibility.

Former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson, Wyoming Republican and an architect of the Simpson-Bowles commission recommendations, is frustrated with members of both parties.

“Politicians refusing to negotiate are hurting our country, not helping it,” said Simpson.

Simpson has soundly criticized anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist, blaming him for standing in the way of a bipartisan solution to the deficit. Simpson also has criticized the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) for standing in the way of entitlement reforms.

Democrat Erskine Bowles, another architect of the Simpson-Bowles Commission, praises Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan for being honest and straightforward about the need to revamp federal programs.

Yes, you heard right. We have a Democrat supporting the economic philosophy of a Republican.

There also are times when Republicans support the viewpoints of Democrats. So there is some hope that the political system can indeed work.

The right thing to do, as noted by the Simpson-Bowles Commission, is to cut spending, revamp programs and produce more revenue with modest tax increases.

More selfishness, however, appears to be the order of the day.


Tom Hintgen is a columnist for The Journal. His column runs on Sundays.

  • BillSchulz

    In all, a fairly balanced piece, but the author can’t resist showing his liberal leanings to insinuate that States which are republican get more back from the government than democrat states. A fine example of the old saw thet figures lie and liars figure. Unsaid is that most republican states have military bases which receive funds, and , overall, the military presence in traditionally democrat states have less in way of military installations. Also, lets say, oh, NorthDakota,
    a republican state, gets $1.46 tax money back for every one of its about 6hundred residents. That would be about
    $876 THOUSAND. Now, California, as liberal a democratic state as one find, gets only about $1.16 per each of its 40million residents. That is about $46 MILLION. So, which of those states get a bigger TOTAL return, ND or California. Which is larger , $876,000 or $46,400,000? Those aren’t the exact figures, but thay do show how figures need to be examined and questioned when used to promote the liberal views of writers such as this author.
    A better index would be to show how much tax money is returned for each resident of the states, and then democratic states wind up being tall hogs in the money stamps..manintaining several public school systems to satisfy students whose parents refuse to allow them to be melded into the English language and the American culture..public universities which give free tuition rides to immigrants and minorities while making others pay full freight… and on and on. Should conservatives “compromise” with that, or maintain a posture which protects working people from the excesses of liberals?

  • Phaedrus

    As usual Bill, your claims have no basis in reality, food stamps, unemployment benefits, etc. are included in the $1.46 and $1.16 figures. You are aware that the Defense Department has their own budget, and it’s unlikely that defense spending was included in that total (in other words, it’s not because of military bases that the figure is higher for “red” states – that seems like something you just fantasized about). In any event, you made the claim, so the burden of proof falls to you – find the methodology that was employed and prove me wrong.

    But let’s use your figures (where you have them – and if figures lie, it’s probably even easier to lie when you don’t include figures that can be checked, right?) So a place with 600,000 gets an extra $276,000 and the state with 40 million residents gets an extra $6.4 million dollars (probably not enough to purchase one of Romney’s homes – if we’re just going to throw around off-hand remarks). On the other hand, if California (and there are plenty of military bases in California) had North Dakota’s return, they’d get $58.4 million or $52 million more dollars than they currently are receiving. You should compare apples to apples, not apples to fishing strategies. Of course, maybe that’s what they meant by “figures lie”?

    • BillSchulz

      Nice try Phaedrus, but as usual with you, all flimflammery. To use your examples, but put them in a truthful context, California residents , with higher taxable earnings and about 65 times as many taxpayers as North Dakota, gets $1.16 per 40 million residents, or say, $46,400,000 , while North Dakota will get $1.46 for 600 thousand residents, $876.000, which gives California about $53 dollars for every dollar sent to North Dakota. Actually, the numbers are much higher than that, as California gets Billions of dollars from the U.S. taxpayers , and at least 50 times as many actual dollars than ND. Hintgen either intentionally or carelessly throws out a statistic to take a dig at Republicans, and you are there to swear to his misinformation. AND, the military, the defense department budget, is part ot the national budget from which those $1.16 and $1.46 figures are taken. North dakota has a significantly higher amount of Defense Department expenditures PER CAPITA ( per resident) than most other states. Of course, with your Supreme Leader for Life 0bama in charge, he wants to drastically shrink defense spending so he can throw the funds at his favorite welfare and other giveaway programs.
      As to figures lying, it is more accurate to say that liberals use figures to support their misinformation and propaganda.

      • Phaedrus

        Bill, I didn’t ask you to speculate about it, I asked you to produce actual evidence (not something from your imagination). It seems pretty obvious that you’re just guessing that defense appropriations are included (since you didn’t provide any evidence). If you actually knew that was the case, you’d have looked up the criteria used in the study’s methodology and could provide that information, but no, just more aimless ramblings. Go back and try again.

        Even if we take your numbers and California gets $53 for every $1 North Dakota gets, that’s not a very useful comparison until you figure out that for every North Dakota resident (using your numbers) there are 66 residents of California. Continuing the comparison, that means that for every dollar a North Dakota resident gets, the California resident gets 80 cents.

        Are you unfamiliar with the definition of truthfulness? Isn’t it in fact the case that the looming “cuts to defense” were part of the “deal” with House Republicans while they damaged the countries credit rating last summer, and now they want to renege on their deal (which isn’t terribly surprising)? Hand-waving and selective memory is a poor substitute for information and critical thought. Throwing around unsubstantiated accusations isn’t helping your cause.

        • BillSchulz

          Whew..How you 0bama radicals twist reality. 0bama had been the one to wreck our credit rating with trillions of dollars borrowed for his crony unions and alternative energy scams and pet special interest groups, so the GOP house said “Enough, we aren’t raising the debt limit any higher without significant spendinfg cuts.” So the Supreme Leader for Life called all his Marxist toadies and stenographers in the mainstream press and concocted the story that it was the GOP’s refusal to spend even more that was wrecking our credit. So he proposed cutting what he considers non-essential, starting with national defense, law enforcement, border protection. Now, I know that you will spin the facts to weave a web of deceit to protect your radical Leader, but it is too late , the word is out, the Leader has been exposed and is losing ground every day. Only rads like yourself and your simpletons in the leftist press think that you have gotten away with that con game.

          • Phaedrus

            Jeez Bill, are you too lazy to trace information back to its source, or did you do it and find something you didn’t want to find, so you decided to just ignore it? Try and stay on task. You’re obviously in the same camp as the “Romney pollster Neil Newhouse responded to the criticism, saying, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.”” There’s no sense in letting a bunch of facts get in the way of a paranoid, conspiracy filled narrative. Rage on!!

            And since your memory seems to be pretty terrible, I’ll remind you of the Budget Control Act that was the “Congressional deal” that they made to raise the debt ceiling that included, “A special bipartisan “super committee” of 12 lawmakers is tasked with considering those questions and making recommendations that will later be put before their peers in the House and Senate for a vote by December. If they don’t succeed, the new law would impose steep, automatic cuts across the federal budget, including defense programs and Medicare.” If you don’t remember, that didn’t turn out well and here we are with looming automatic cuts. Just for the sake of accuracy.

            And try to remember, I’m the only one who knows what I’m thinking, you don’t get to tell me or define me – you don’t even know me, so that’s beyond silly.

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