We all—at least I know I do—feel like we’ve been marinating in the endless hyperbole of a long worn out primary season. But, just you wait.
The feverish pitch of discontent is going to get a lot worse as the campaign windbaggery increases over the next 6-months.
Here is some of the less glamorous stuff. The press won’t talk about it because to do so would bore most of us to death.
Or, maybe most of the media is clueless! It’s probably a little of both, I fear.
Be aware. Even though this stuff can cure insomnia, it all came straight from the Congressional Record, some of it going back to 1938.
Like it or not, the Piper awaits payment. So, read on and get your wallets out! It’s about to get expensive. Rising gas prices don’t even scratch the surface, either.
Taxes! Nothing induces catatonia in Conservatives like the mention of the word, “taxes.” They just seem to drop right down into a thumb-sucking fetal position.
Liberals, on the other hand, don’t seem to be anywhere near as terrified of these terms. Well, at least they don’t if we don’t count both Congressional reelection and Presidential election years.
I thought NOW would be a good time to bring up the fact that ALL of our respective candidates have been less than forthright about the nation’s tax situation. Hillary? Barack? John? ANYONE?
Guess what? The Iraq war will NOT be at the top of our next president’s list of things that have to be addressed NOW. And, all three of our candidates know it, too.
No matter which candidate we elect—Democrat or Republican—the number one concern will HAVE to be the economy. If not, the present will look like GREAT times compared to what’s coming. Barack? John? Hillary? ANYONE!
First, two years from now, $300 billion in tax cuts will expire. And, because we are facing a monumental budget deficit, the next president will have to DO something.
And, it will cause whichever candidate it is to come to a complete understanding of the phrase, “between a rock and hard place.”
If Congress—the president can't do a thing, really—lets the tax cuts expire, we'll be in for a humongous tax increase. If the Congress extends the cuts, the shortfall in federal revenue will become even worse than it is now. Senator Reed? Representative Pelosi? ANYONE!
Remember, we're looking at a projected budget deficit of about $500 billion. And, our national debt is around $10 trillion as I type this. Wait and see what happens to it, given the status-quo—in two years!
The three main areas of concern are first, $174 billion in individual and business tax cuts, plus tax credits for expanded child and education initiatives. These, alone, reduced the average tax bite for a family of four by about $1,700 a year—from $4,000 down to around $2,300.
Second, there is the matter of that annoying alternative minimum tax that the Democratic-controlled Congress enacted about 40-years ago as a knee-jerk reaction to trap a handful of millionaires in the process of exploiting the system.
An unintended consequence, thanks to inflation, has been the entrapment of over 25-million honest taxpayers (middle-class) getting their pants ripped off. This little mistake will cost around $82 billion to fix AND it will have to be fixed. Why is the subject of a near-future column.
Finally, something will have to be done about the inheritance tax (the “death” tax). It will expire at midnight on 12/31/2010. One lousy second later, as the calendar switches over to 01/01/2011, all inheritances over $1 million will be taxed at a 55% rate.
This will result in additional tax revenue of about $50 billion for the federal government, but it will sure piss off the natives! Remember the battle cry of “read my lips; no new taxes?” It made George H. W. Bush a one-termer.
OK, now let’s explode some fiscal myths concerning Liberal and Conservative spending…
From 1938 through the year 2007—69-years—we’ve had 35-years worth of Democratic presidents and 34-years of Republican presidents. Over that period, our national debt has increased at an annual rate of around 8.7%.
According to the Congressional Record, the breakdown is an average annual increase of 8.3% during Democrat years and 9.7% during Republican years.
This is no big deal. The difference is not worth discussing. However, when we look closer at the Congressional Record, we see something else. Let's start with Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democrat, and go forward to 2007.
We elected 12-presidents during this period: six Democrats and six Republicans. But, the debt scenario looks a bit different under this microscope.
Democratic Presidents increased the debt an average of 3.2% annually, while the Republican presidents increased it 9.7% annually. This looks a tad bad for the Republicans, but maybe not too bad.
However, here's something interesting. The Neo-Conservative movement started in earnest in 1981—certainly, we all remember Newt Gingrich.
The Neo-Conservative presidents since then have been Reagan, Bush-I, not a true Neo by any stretch but he let the Neo's run his presidency, and Bush-II.
Of course, in between Bush-I and -II came Bill Clinton. And, Conservatives, keep holding your noses! The reason that the country elected Bush-II in his first term was NOT because he ran against Al Gore, or because of the Florida ballot fiasco, or even because of the United States Supreme Court.
It was because Bill Clinton could not run for a third term. At the time, he would have won reelection in a landslide—justifiably or not.
Clinton—I know you Bush folks won't like this—sexual indiscretions notwithstanding, raised the debt only around 4% a year, while Reagan, Bush-I, and Bush-II raised it an average of about 11% a year.
Conservatives, keep inhaling and exhaling into the paper bag! Relative to the debt’s RATE of increase, Bill Clinton has been the only exception over the past 25-years, bringing the debt growth RATE down.
By the end of his last term, he had brought it down to just about ZERO.
Looking at the entire national debt over the past 25-years, Reagan, Bush-I, and Bush-II have been responsible for around 71% of it. Neo-Conservatives, it seems, either don’t know how or don’t have the will to control government spending.
Oh, and don’t blame it on wars, either. Both Democratic and Republican presidents have taken us to war. The Neo-Conservatives just seem more inept at efficiently ending them.
I have no ax to grind here, folks. For the record, I’m a Conservative, a registered Republican since 1963—the first year I was eligible to vote.
More importantly, though, I'm just a scientific and legal researcher who knows how to find the REAL numbers and crunch them.
I've said this numerous times. If we don't get the extremists out of our government (Neo-Conservatives on the Right and their equally dumb-assed cousins on the Left), we're ALL screwed.
If you notice, none of the three candidates has brought any of this up. They have not brought it up because the media hasn’t asked the right questions: too busy spending all if its time endlessly plotting meaningless gotchas.
Until we voters take the extremists out of the political equation, Congress cannot work the way we need it to work.
While the system wasn’t perfect back in the days of Tip O'Neil (’51-’69), Everett Dirksen (’77-’87), Barry Goldwater (’69-’87), and others, we didn't have the crescendo of deal-breaking ideological stalemates as we do now.
These people would solve myriad problems over a simple round of golf or afternoon lunch sessions. They were on opposing political sides, but they knew the art of reasonable, accommodating compromise.
Both sides of the political isle talked to one and other. They also understood that the security and prosperity of this country depended on it. They still DO depend on it—desperately!
We need to get back to that way of governing. We should be looking for a candidate who can get us closer to talking to each other. I'm not sure that any of the current candidates can do this… at least not right now.
Joe Walther is a freelance writer and publisher of The True Facts. You may comment on his column by clicking here.