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Theater of the Absurd in Washington

All these negotiations over the so-called “fiscal cliff” make for Theater of the Absurd in so many ways.  Just off the top you have the fact that the vast majority of Americans do not consider the national debt to be a major issue, and the fact that the financial markets themselves show very little concern over it.  So why in the world is this issue even being discussed at all in Washington?  Beyond that, most of the solutions proposed by the Republicans are aimed at cutting spending at some point way out there in the future.  The obvious problem here is that this Congress can not in any way influence what future members of Congress are going to do.  Whatever they pass today can easily be overturned by Congress in five or ten years or whenever whatever takes effect.

The whole issue is so brain dead simple any sixth-grader should be able to understand it.  Obviously there are two ways to do something about the deficit.  You need to (a) increase your revenue and/or (b) decrease your spending.  But (b) isn’t really an option right now, as a decrease in spending is just going to send the economy back in to a tailspin — which is one of the main reasons why the deficit got so huge in the first place.  So cutting spending is self-defeating.  It won’t help the deficit problem, all it will do is inflict a lot of pain on the most vulnerable people.  Only a sociopath would opt for this solution.  On the other hand, if you increase revenue by raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, that not only solves the deficit problem, but it also doesn’t hurt anyone.  You’re taking money from people who already have far more money than they know what to do with.  And if you really want to make a major, lasting dent in the deficit problem, you take part of the money from taxes on the wealthy and re-invest it in things like national infrastructure and renewable energy projects — which not only makes this a better, stronger country, it also kick starts the economy, which leads to more people paying more in taxes, and voila — the whole deficit problem disappears as we get back to prosperous times for all Americans.