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Letter to the editor:

How bad does it have to get?

Thu, Apr 19, 2012 (2 a.m.)

I wonder where the tipping point is. Mitt Romney and the Republicans say we must cut spending but not raise taxes. They don’t propose nearly enough spending cuts to balance the budget or reduce the debt, and it is folly to believe we will grow ourselves out of these financial problems. President Barack Obama and the Democrats say we must raise taxes but not cut spending much at all. They propose higher taxes that are not nearly large enough and not imposed on enough Americans to balance the budget or reduce the debt. It is folly to believe we will be able to tax ourselves out of these financial problems.

Both parties and our members of Congress recognize that the debt and deficit problems have become so unwieldy that it is best (for them) to play politics with them rather than offer real solutions, which would be highly unpopular. It took me awhile to understand the game, but I do understand it now. I wonder how bad it is going to have to get in this very large and prosperous nation for enough Americans to demand that the shell game stops. Unfortunately, I am afraid I am going to be here to find out.

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Discussion: 79 comments so far…

  1. I would say that the life styles of tens of millions of Americans have been devastated by the economy.Only 50% of the wage earners pay any income taxes. This is a serious structural problem that has to be remedied before the feds pass more tax increases on the rest of us. For God's sake , let's get expenditures under control. There are absolutely no expenditure boundaries under this administration.Paul Ryan's budget is a start.

  2. The American economy has become a political football. Career politicians have found it to their advantage to dupe citizens into thinking these lawmakers are "working on a better tomorrow" while in fact, the only tomorrow they work for is their very own reelection. Add to the mix of changing laws to allow corporations to be treated as human beings, which exponentially increases their influence in our politics and budget, and Americans have the longest nightmare in history.

    The problem is that our American society has a difficult time uniting together and having an effective voice in our own government. This problem has been aggrevated by uncontrolled immigration, massive flooding of illegal aliens into our country, dilluting the power and voice of the People. America was its greatest when those who came here were willing to become one of us. They spoke in the same voice, worked towards the common good. But today, folks work not for the common good, but for their own selfish good, the good of the country be damned.

    Until the People can UNITE, as in the United States and united People, our country will continue to spiral downward. When We the People, can unite under a common cause for the common good, things get done, marvelous things at that! Just look at the amazing innovations, growth of economy, and world respect our country once had historically.

    As human beings, when we suffer individually, it is unbearable. But when we share in the suffering and we join together towards supporting one another through the pain and suffering, there is effective recovery. We, as a People of a great nation, have to come together, join hands, work in concert to get the job done. There is no other way.

    Blessings and Peace,

  3. "When dynamic scoring which takes into account growth in the economy is used this increases the total Federal revenue". Sounds like wishful thinking will generate revenue. It won't. How much would the economy have to grow to produce these "results"? Meanwhile, Ryan's "budget" would slash and burn many programs of benefit to the working poor and what's left of the middle class.

  4. Carmine, I would remind you that Paul Ryan was on the Simpson Bowles committee, AND VOTED AGAINST IT. The GOP is about to nominate TRUE MEMBER IN GOOD STANDING of the "millionaires club" you mention. How does that improve anything?

  5. Mr. Casler,

    As I have asked you before, now that you "understand the game," will you please let go of your calm and deliberate approach and turn to more passion?

    "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." - Barry Goldwater


  6. dipstick lives in Crook County, IL, and lectures us as being "too lazy to make necessary changes in our lifestyles ... to alter our national debt," all the while salivating over saving 100 bucks a month for himself. Typical leftist BS: You do the sacrificing by pulling the wagon; I'll reap the benefits by riding in it. That gravy train begins to end with the November elections. Let's take dipstick at his word and not be lazy. Get out there and vote out the tax & spend, entitlement-driven leftists. Get rid of Osama Obama and his fellow travelers and keep the Titus's and Berkeley's from gaining the power to trample our rights and destroy our children's & grandchildren's futures. Let's regain our country from the "progressives" who want to dramatically "transform" it!

  7. RoboGod,

    As I am confident you know, your number is incorrect.


  8. Carmine,the member in good standing of the millionaires club is Mitt Romney, not Paul Ryan..yet. To clarify, Ryan was a member of the Simpson/Bowles committee, and voted against their PROPOSED SOLUTIONS, not the committee itself.

  9. "How bad does it have to get?"

    Answer: As bad as we're willing to let it. We can blame elcted officials for our dilemma, but the truth is all of us are responsible. The elected officials we blame are just reflections of we, the people. They are divided because we are divided.

    Some of us realize that there is a federal deficit problem, but refuse to pay any more in taxes. Others don't want to lose any services or benefits as long as people refuse to pay more taxes. Hence, the standoff.

    People are fond of quoting polls where about 75% of us think the country is moving in the wrong direction. That agreement by the 75% ends when you ask what the right direction is.

  10. Mitt Romney is a success.He is a self propelled guy who has shown his competence in everything he has done--Bain,the Olympics and as governor in a liberal state That crawls under the skin of you pinheaded liberals. You guys would rather perpetuate the Obama corruption and incompetence that exists in the current WH. Obama is a waste of time. He is milking this country dry.To the contrary, Romney is a success. He is competent. He is a turnaround expert.With a successful campaign, he will be the next President.

  11. Mitt the Twit...

    Has NO SHOT.
    He don't know JACK, Houston, and most Republicans KNOW IT and can't even bring themselves to admit that they'd VOTE for the guy in November.

    Your post carries no water. No facts. Just the usual "Oh, how I HATE LIBRULS. Obama ruining country.' Junk that means NADA.

    Nobody likes your guy, Jack.


  12. Purgatory,

    I have as much passion as the next American who is watching our once great nation sink into decline.

    I have no issue with D or R supporters voting for their party. After all, you have to vote for somebody. I care about who is President but not nearly as much as I care about Congress. The body that makes our laws, sets our taxes and controls spending is where are problem is. Our President is not a dictator. He or she can lead and suggest but that's all.

    The people we have in Congress want to stay there. Our system has degenerated to a place where doing the bidding of powerful groups with lobbyists, being against anything the opposite party is for and throwing a few bones to try to keep voters happy is the 'key' for members of Congress to remain in office. That's why no matter who controls Congress, we never see the true changes we need to address our most pressing problems. Year after year, they just get worse.

    The 'only' solution I see is for Americans to get angry, at both parties and especially those in Congress, for destroying our country. I write to Reid and Heller and I complain. I don't think either does a good job and I let them know. I am ignored of course, but I wouldn't be if more Americans expressed their displeasure. I mostly vote R but I now do it figuratively with my fingers pinching my nose. I hate these people. I wish every R and D supporter would express anger toward their party, not by voting for the opposite party, with whom they disagree, but to express that they are damn angry with the performance of the entire Congress.

    This bullsh***t that the other other party is responsible for Congress poor performance is just that. Congress is a great place to be employed and those in there have discovered the best way to stay in there and what they do works in direct contradiction to what's best for America.

    We .... all of us have to make it clear that we've had enough. Supporting 'our' side without reservation, demonizing the other side and mostly remaining quiet simply perpetuates the status quo and the status quo is an America in decline.


  13. Why didn't we have the deficit discussion when we started the two wars, were deregulating the banks and we were cutting taxes?

  14. Mitt Romney is a chameleon. He shape-shifts to fit either the progressive environment of Massachusets or the conservative environment of the Republican primary. As an elected official or candidate he has demonstrated great followship abilities but less leadership abilities.

    There is little doubt he can lead in a CEO role but he's running for President not Benevolent Dictator. There are serious doubts about him when facing a "board of directors" of 535 legislators.

  15. When push comes to shove, the federal government will default on un-entitlements and push down to local governments--to provide what they chose to. The feds will be limited to essential constitutional functions such as defense of our borders, oversight and dealing with the unimaginable debt situation. They will attempt to keep interest rates low, pretending we can afford the payments, and inflation will be double to triple digits. That's all assuming we can function at all.

  16. Clinton picked up after Reagan; Obama would be foolish to clean up you rich no accounts mess now !

  17. Michael Kelly,

    The answer to your question is simple. The discussion wasn't had then because the economy was healthy. It should have been had then but the deficit and debt never become an issue when the economy is healthy. If the economy was healthy now, we would not be talking about the debt and deficit. I know you want to believe it is because a black D is in the White House but it isn't.

    Congress 'hates' to talk about or deal with the debt and deficit at any time. Why? Because doing so always involves raising taxes and or cutting spending... and either one always irritates some powerful group with lobbyists and blocks of voters.

    Michael, you really need to understand that people in Congress stay in office by creating new programs and benefits, not by raising taxes and or cutting spending. That's the game, Michael... and both parties play it.


  18. Bill Clinton seemed to deal pretty well with the deficit which didn't really help wage earners and the poor: Mr. Casler that was a period of relative prosperity for the wealthy wasn't it ; even though most peoples income declined in the long run.

  19. Mr. Cassler is right on the money with his assessment of the action or non action of both parties.In this election year we the voters will hear what they the campaigners want us to hear. At this point in time it's about winning the Presidental election, and we will keep hearing half truth's until it's decided who won the election. Then and only then we will see what the true platform is of either President Obama or Governor Mitt Romney depending who wins.Enjoy the game.

  20. Michael,

    As you will recall, credit was given to both former President Clinton and the R Congress for that. In my opinion, neither deserved as much credit as was given. I was employed in the dot com (later to become the dot bomb) during that period and that alone created an economic bubble that eventually burst, adding much 'fake' fuel to the economy. In addition, the former President's two terms were at a time of very low international tension, which also assisted the economy.

    Presidents and Congresses for a very long time have done very little that involved actually raising taxes or cutting spending in an amount necessary to impact deficits and debts and that continues to this day.


  21. Since most of the deficit comes from rising health care costs romney care isn't such a bad idea is it ? The conservative limited government response to everything is nothing right ? Isn't that what is happening now ? Should we vote for people that will just be on the golf course and collecting a check like Ensign ?

  22. Dennis,

    I believe in spending cuts and higher taxes. However, I am coming to the conclusion that because Americans are selfish and indulgent, as you state, in order to get them to agree to cuts in spending and benefits, we are going to have to actually tax every American, on a progressive scale, the amount that government must have to pay for ALL of its spending.

    If we did that, Americans would quickly decide they did not want their taxes that high. Then we could have a rational discussion about what to cut. That won't happen of course but it needs to happen.


  23. The game is rigged now and the trickle downers have no interest in making it fair if you want to put a gun to the country's head vote Republican.

  24. Michael,

    Alot of spending is in health care. You are right about that. Unfortunately, the ACA isn't going to reduce the haelth care costs or slow the rise in costs. Lobbying in Congress (of both sides) by insurance, pharma and health care made sure their profits and continued rise in costs would continue. Therefore all the ACA will do is transfer costs from the private market to the government. Who funds the government? We do! so you tell me, how does that reduce costs and help us?


  25. the ACA has already exposed the rapacious physicians and drug companies.

  26. We can't reduce the cost of healthcare in this country until we come to grips with the simple fact that every other first world nation has already figured out: you can't control costs when there is a profit expectation built into every conceivable stage of healthcare delivery.

    Even under the ACA, we start the delivery of healthcare by allowing private insurance companies to skim 15-20% off the top of every premium dollar.

  27. wtplv - "I have as much passion as the next American who is watching our once great nation sink into decline."


    I have no doubt you feel that way at all. Most of us do, but people need to ask why are we in decline? It isn't because of Obama and it wasn't the direct result of Bush policies, and Romney will not be able to fix it. It's very simple. We are in decline because middle and working class citizens have had the screws put to them. For over 30 years wages and salaries stagnated while unions made little gains and the wealth of the country has been drained by the elites. Why did we do better under Eisenhower when taxes were almost 90% at the top? Again another simple answer. The middle class exploded and had huge purchasing power, even the wealthiest did exceptionally well. The economy is now lopsided with a shrinking middle class in debt and the impoverished increasing in size. We are at a stage similar to the Great Depression when a handful fat cats held the wealth of the country in their hands. If not corrected we will have another great recession or depression in the near future, the cycle will repeat without doubt. We can not continue giving the wealth of the country to those at the top and expect to maintain economic stability.

  28. Vernos,

    We just come at this from a different point. It's been pointed out that if we took every dollar from every wealthy person in America, we still could not pay for what government spends every year or have money left over to reduce the debt. That destroys the argument that the only problem is that the wealthy have too much and the rest of us not enough.

    With the amount government currently spends, we simply don't collect enough revenue from taxes to pay for all of it. If we raised everyones taxes enough to cover all the spending and start paying down the debt, including the wealthy, even by alot, ordinary Americans would cry uncle and say they do not want to pay taxes that high.

    Raising taxes is part of the solution and President Obama recognizes that. But cutting spending is also part of the solution. And the numbers say that just raising taxes on the wealthy and cutting a little spending is going to be woefully inadequate. I think everybody, including President Obama knows this too. The problem with all of them is that they are all unwilling to admit to the American people that we must raise taxes....on everybody... and cut spending. It's the only way.

    You can talk about inequality all you want, but until we start matching spending to revenue, we are up a creek without a paddle.


  29. Dennis,

    I am not in agreement with people who argue for no raising of taxes and we will 'grow' our way out of this mess. I don't believe that is likely. I also do not agree with people that say we can solve our financial problem by raising taxes on the rich, who deny that SS and Medicare are heading for financial troubles, and that don't want to cut any domestic spending programs.

    So as you can see, I have nobody, no party, and no cnadidate I can support without holding my nose first. It's a damn frustrating place to be.

    I see that you can seemingly happily and enthusiastically support D's and the others you mentioned can seemingly happily and enthusiastically support R's. I just don't understand, given the facts, how you all can do that.


  30. Re Freeman,

    I have stated before my agreement with re-writing the tax code, making fewer brackets and removing ways to use the code to avoid taxes. Many 'experts' have argued doing so would actually increase revenue to the government. I am all for that. And I fail to understand how, if such changes result in more revenue, how that can happen if someones taxes don't go up... ergo... a tax increase.


  31. What does it say about a "patriot" who keeps his money in Swiss banks and offshore accounts?

  32. Keeping a bank account in the Caymans Ref? What is the convenience of that? Other than secrecy and tax "avoidance"?

  33. Michael has got it right: We have to raise revenues AND cut expenditures.

  34. Hi Leric, Do you know what US Treasury Form 90-22.1 is? It has to filed every year by any individual(s) that meets certain requirements by June 30. Regards Phil

  35. "Is there a law against keeping money in multiple bank accounts with some overseas? Are you making it a crime Vernos?"

    Not at all a crime, but it exposes the fact that worshiping the "almighty dollar" will over ride anything Romney has said and will say. I've never seen a candidate spin so fast and so many times. The "etch a sketch" label is appropiate.

  36. Hi Phil -- Thanks. But no everyone has filed them (Look at the Swiss Bank deals). And some have even gone so far as to create complicated structures so that it can be argued that they have no signatory authority over or financial interest in the offshore accounts. In the Caymans there has been no way for the Treasury to check to see whether Form 90-22.1 should have been filed, because Cayman bank secrecy is absolute -- unlike Switzerland, which has an exclusion from its' bank secrecy laws if there is tax evasion involved.

  37. Speaking of which, where are Mitt Romney's tax returns?

  38. Hi Leric, US Treasury Form 90-22.1 must be filed by any individual that owns or or have an interest in any foreign banks accounts or other type of financial accounts based outside the United States. The accounts balance of all your accounts is US$10,000.00 or greater at anytime during the year (per institution). You must list all accounts owned or have authority over to conduct transactions on behalf of the owner. The report is due on 6/30. Accounts that are reportable are bank accounts, investment accounts, mutual funds, retirement accounts, security and brokerage accounts, debit cards and prepaid credit cards, and life insurance and annuities having cash value. The penalties for filing late or not filing can be severe. If your failure to file form 90-22.1 is willful the penalty can be as much as 50 percent of the balance of each account not disclosed. If the failure is non-willful the penalty can not exceed US $10,000.00 per account not disclosed. When you open a large account even in the Cayman Island you do leave a paper trail of the transaction and it can be found. They should amend the for willful to include jail time. Regards Phil

  39. "It's fun watching you try and divert attention away from Obama's record. It's amazing how liberals won't mention one word about it. It's the 800 lb Gorilla in the room."



    What exactly is Obama's record in your opinion? Much of what we hear is pure BS with distorted facts tossed out, such as "the Stimulus" was a failure. Did you hear those hand picked Republican voters who sat down with Romney on April 18 and discuss taxes and the Stimulus?

    The fringe right won't acknowledge any accomplishments by Obama and will blame him for a meteor striking the planet. Many of the whackos speak out of both sides of their mouths disregarding reality. I know crazy when I see it and it doesn't have to quack as a duck.

  40. Vernos says that "[t]he fringe right won't acknowledge any accomplishments by Obama and will blame him for a meteor striking the planet."

    It is just as true that the extreme Obama supporters won't recognize any of Obama's shortcomings and will seemingly give him credit for anything including the Sun coming up in the morning.

    Both groups of people should be seen for what they are and not be permitted to control the outcome of the upcoming election.

  41. @boftx,

    There are things Obama has done I don't care for, but right from the start the fringe went off the deep end and pulled the GOP with them. The recent extremist remarks by Ted Nugent has been going on for over three years. How does one get away with threatening a president or calling the Secretary of Defense a worthless b*tch and not be denounced by Republican leadership? When Limbaugh went on his rant about Sandra Fluke the best Romney could say was "he wouldn't use those words." What words would he have used calling her a slut? How can congressional members like West and Bachmann accuse Dems of being communists based on false beliefs or some idiots blog they read on the internet? Why are we still hearing about birthers? I'm tired of hearing the fringe right talk about real Americans when many of them didn't serve a single day in the military. Case in point, Ted Nugent, another wanna be tough guy joining the ranks of Cheney, Limbaugh, Hannity, O'Reilly and others. There are people on the right attempting to commit voter fraud to prove there is voter fraud. WTF? Obama is far from perfect but what the GOP is doing is really scary, especially enacting anti voter rights and womens health concerns, issues that were settled years ago. Just today Jan Brewer enacted a law which will allow teaching the bible in public schools.

  42. Re Vernos. Well stated. Ted Nugent? Who gives a crap what he says or does? Last I knew, he was a bow hunter. Nothing wrong with bow hunters, but it fits the mold of those who would take the country back to the 18th century or prior. All of the other right wing nutjobs you mentioned are chicken hawk losers who love war, but have no intention, now or then, of serving the country they profess to love. Voting a GOP ticket this November is endorsing a trip to the past. The past is the past, and we don't want to go there again.

  43. Vernos,

    My problem with Obama is similar to the one I have with Romney. Neither has shown any leadership in dealing with our debt and deficits. Congress, due to hatred of the opposite party, lobbyists and a desire to be re-elected will guarantee Congress does nothing of substance on the debt and deficit. Unless we have a President that leads in this area, 4 years from now, the country will be further down the road to financial ruin.

    Obama wants to create more 'fairness' by taking money from the wealthy and spending it on more government. He seems not to notice that the financial pie is shrinking and without both more revenue and less spending, we will keep going the wrong way.

    Romney wants to try to grow us out of our problems with lower taxes and fewer regulations. He seems, like Obama, not to really care about the debt and deficits enough to call for reduced government spending and more revenue. It will take both.

    It's awful. The 2nd President in a row to show no leadership on the debt and deficit and a candidate for President that doesn't show any leadership in those areas.


  44. Re EVERYONE. Same old same old. To quote "The Who", meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Romney is an elite, out of touch quarter of a billionaire who has no idea what average Americans deal with economically. There is no "leadership" in congress, nor at the presidential level in this country. Please, elect Romney in 2012. You all know what we'll get: another empty suit with no plan and no vision for the future of this country. Romney has been a perpetual candidate for over a decade. It's all EGO folks. He fawned over his daddy, just like GWB fawned over his daddy, and John McCain fawned over his admiral father and grandfather. Just as elites fathered this country, elites intend to run it now and forever!

  45. Re Carmine. Love your comments, as usual. I was referring to a LITTLE BIT FURTHER in the past; ie GWB, Dick "I have a new heart" Cheney, and, you know, the rest of the cabal that got us all into this continuing morass in the first place. Had to smile at your comment though! Keep it up my friend!

    Gary R. Lind

  46. "2007 Baseline numbers:"

    if you weren't disingenuous you'd use the 2009 numbers. but you aren't so you stretch. congrats!

  47. There is nothing wrong with looking to the past to help steer our course for the future.

    I, for one, prefer that we always look to the principles our nation was founded upon, those of the Enlightenment. They are, and should be, part of the very fabric of our society.

    As Michael has said so many times now, it is up to us, the citizenry, to ensure we have elected leaders who will build upon our foundation and not tear down what has gone before.

  48. Obama has proposed a way to eliminate the debt but very subtly: he uses diplomacy instead of the military as a tool for peace.

    Listen to Romney - he wants to build the military up. Defense spending will have no limits and will be used to harass those who do not obey the Great White Hope in Washington.

    With Romney, another couple trillion will be thrown down a rat hole to teach axes of evil to obey - North Korea and Iran are at the top of his list. No amount of taxes or Medicare cuts will pay for Romney's war machine. Romney is a modern religious Ideologue which nearly guarantees he will force before diplomacy because Romney has NEVER been a diplomat. He shuns that option.

    Romney will spend this country into the ground trying to defeat his version of Evil and attempt to pay for it with the health care and savings of the retired. Romney said that "God wants America to lead" and that means a big military, because the god that Romney prays to has less power in this Universe then a fast fart in a high wind.

  49. "How bad does it have to get?"

    "EUGENE, Ore. (CN) - Former members of Bain Capital fired six out of seven managers of a senior housing company because they are not Mormon, the fired managers claim in Federal Court."


    "they say the private equity firm Sorenson Capital Partners, which controlled Care's daily operations, fired them because they are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
    The principals of SCP, including a number of its managing directors and officers, are former partners or executives at Bain Capital and Bain & Company," the complaint states.

    Republican presidential candidate-in-waiting Mitt Romney founded Bain Capital in 1984 after working for Bain & Co."

    Romney will see to it, as in the business world, that the "Saints will go marching in". Where the scent of cash wafts in the air, as that powered by Government Defense spending, the chosen will go marching in. When "America Leads", cash runs in the gutters for the privileged and the National Debt escalates beyond all belief. Elect the Great White Hope and watch the turmoil begin.

  50. Are we going to wait until we do a Grecian Swan Song? Or a Spanish nose dive?

  51. Elect Barack Obama again, and you'll find out "How bad does it have to get?"
    To paraphrase the late Albert Einstein - Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again (i.e., electing liberals, especially Barack Obama) and expecting different results.

  52. The lesser of two spending "evils?"

    G. W. Bush - $4T in eight years (mostly with the collaboration of a Democrat-controlled Congress).

    B.H. Obama - $5T in three and one-half years.