Tax Hike!!!!

My wife, Ellie, and I watch the Sunday morning news shows religiously each week. We usually remain fairly civil, even in the privacy of our own living room, but nobody brings out the wrath of the Kahns like Mitch McConnell, who was interviewed on This Week today. No matter how many times or how aggressively that man is asked to state what the Republicans are willing to give up to compromise on a deficit reduction solution, he refuses to budge on raising revenues, decrying any “tax hike” as inconsistent with economic growth.

Let’s get real here, people. If we cut the deficit, some class of citizens will bear the burden of the cuts, whether through increased taxes or increased payments for vital services formerly subsidized by the government. There will be a hit to economic growth either way. The debate is not over how much pain there will be–politicians seem to agree on the general parameters of the deficit cuts–it is over who will bear it.

The bipartisan deficit reduction panel came up with recommendations that provided a fairly reasonable balance between spending cuts and revenue increases. The Democrats have embraced this compromise and are negotiating how cuts in Medicare and Social Security can most fairly be delivered. They will probably agree to some form of means testing and/or deferral of eligibility. As a result, elderly middle class and wealthy citizens will be required to reach into their pockets and spend their own wealth on what used to be subsidized by the government, whether to pay health insurance premiums or retirement expenses. How is that any different than an increase in taxes on the elderly?

Yet Senator McConnell continues to repeat the idiotic mantra “what we have is a spending problem, not a revenue problem.” Actually, Mitch, what we have is a mismatch between spending and revenues. That mismatch can be erased by cutting spending, increasing revenues, or–here’s an idea–some reasonable combination of both.

Let’s take the political slogans out of this deficit crisis and approach the problem honestly and reasonably. The compromises are not hard to find if we agree that we need to come up with $4 trillion and that we all need to bear some pain.

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