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The country can no longer be negligent

We’ve heard a lot out of Washington these days about using a “balanced” approach to solving our nation’s fiscal crisis. “Balanced” is one of those words, like “fair,” that is subjective. Its meaning differs for each and every person you ask. Everyone agrees that something has to be done to fix this mess. Everyone is also pragmatic enough to know that it will include things that they don’t agree with, whether it be increased taxes or entitlement reform. Still not many of us, especially those in Washington, want to truly define what balanced means.

Let us examine the problem mathematically, as reality demands. A “balanced” approach is going to upset every well intentioned liberal who believes in new entitlements and bigger government; far more than it will offend a fiscal conservative who believes in lower taxes and a less intrusive government. We can increase taxes to the levels that Obama has proposed, and the government will take in approximately an additional $80 billion to $100 billion annually. The yearly deficit currently stands at $1.1 trillion. So if your definition of a “balanced” approach is a budget without deficit, we would have to cut about $1 trillion per year from the current budget. If your idea of a “balanced” approach is an equal amount of tax increases and spending cuts, we would raise taxes by $100 billion and cut spending by $100 billion. Unfortunately, that still leaves us with an annual budget deficit of around $900 billion.

My friends, this is a statistical fact, our country has a spending problem. There just aren’t enough rich people on the planet to tax, to be able to fulfill the past promises that we ourselves demanded and our representatives have over-promised. If we had any semblance of leadership or commonsense in Washington, the first step toward a “balanced” approach would be to have a 10 percent cut across the board: military, Social Security, Medicare, etc. — no sacred cows, no special interests trying to exempt some “one” or some “thing.” We can no longer be negligent. We must honestly address this crisis with meaningful fiscal policy. For if we fail, by just continuing to “kick the can down the road,” we will never be too far from that perennial fiscal cliff nor will we ever accomplish what could be defined as a “balanced” approach.

Jim Espeseth