President Obama will outline his plan to lead the nation out of its financial mess and cut the $14 trillion national debt in a speech at George Washington University today. The combination of tough choices about taxes, spending and needed social safety nets made us wonder: Is the debt problem solvable?
Here are some different and often opposing takes. The answers range from "cut spending" to "raise taxes" to "change Medicare" to "don't worry so much about it."
Do Everything and Do It Quickly: David Walker, CEO of Comeback America Initiative
There is no question that our deficit and debt challenge is solvable. The real question is will we solve it in a timely, reasoned and reasonable manner in order to avoid a U.S. debt crisis or will it take a crisis for Washington to act?
To solve our deficit and debt challenge, people need to know the facts and ignore the ideological illusions that we can just grow, inflate, cut or tax our way out of our structural deficits. From a policy perspective, we need to engage in entitlement reforms, cut and constrain defense and other spending, and engage in comprehensive tax reform. From a political perspective, everything needs to be on the table and everyone needs to be at the table in order to get the job done.
The debt ceiling limit provides an opportunity to ensure that the Congress and the President ultimately address all the above items. Yes, we need to raise the debt ceiling limit, but it should be coupled with tough statutory budget controls, including debt/GDP targets with automatic enforcement mechanisms, that will take effect no later than 2013.
Cut Spending But Don't Raise Taxes: Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform
When politicians in Washington, D.C. or state capitals say that "no one" wants to reduce government spending, what they mean is that "no lobbyists come to my office and ask us to spend less, all the lobbyists ask for more money for themselves."
That is true.
This is why spending reduction only comes by going over the heads of the lobbyists and their co-dependent collaborators in the appropriations committees.
Reagan did this in 1981 and cut 13 percent of domestic discretionary spending -- twice the size of the 6 percent cut just agreed to last Friday night.
Many governors are showing more courage than President Obama. Governors across the nation are standing with taxpayers and against the spending interests. Governor Rick Perry of Texas, Rick Scott of Florida,Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania, Chris Christie of New Jersey, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Andrew Cuomo of New York, and John Kasich of Ohio have all demanded and are winning real spending reductions because they first said....We are not raising taxes, end of discussion, we are going to reduce government spending.
In the past politicians have raised taxes rather than govern. It is easier to raise taxes than reform government or say no to spending lobbies with campaign cash in hand.
Democrats in Washington jumped government spending 30% since 2007 when Democrats capture the House and Senate. All we have to do is return to the (already too high) spending levels pre-Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Prying cash from the hands of lobbyists who stole it "fair and square" will be hard work...but it is the only way to undo the damage of the last four years and the bankrupt future we face unless we do a U-turn on spending.