By Matt Van Dyke
For the past decade, our country has not been on the right track.
Our national debt has hit $14.7 trillion (which is 252.5 times Bill Gates’ net worth), we still have not left Iraq or Afghanistan, nearly 14 million Americans are unemployed, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average has been as unstable as the temperature of Kankakee in November.
If this were not bad enough, the biggest problem has been illustrated in our nation’s capital: The government cannot get along.
The most recent showcasing of this problem has been in the past week with President Obama’s debt reduction plan. The goal of the plan is to cut a little more than $3 trillion off the deficit over 10 years.
The major difference between what the president is advocating and what the Republican congress wants is how this will be done.
President Obama and his supporters want to pair spending cuts with a tax reform, which would close many of the loopholes that allow upper-income taxpayers to pay less in federal taxes.
The decline in the deficit will be attributed to three major changes. $1.1 trillion will be saved once the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq is completed.
The second major area of savings will be in a cut of $580 billion dollars from Medicare and Medicaid, the federal government’s insurance programs for the elderly and the poor, respectively.
The third and final area will be a reform of taxes on those with higher income levels, which would save $1.5 trillion of the deficit.
Who could argue against saving $3 trillion dollars? House Speaker John Boehner and his supporters, on the other hand, want no new taxes whatsoever. Following the announcement of Obama’s plan, Speaker Boehner retorted, “Class warfare isn’t leadership,” according to an article in the “Christian Science Monitor” on Sept. 20.
In addition to Boehner’s statements against the plan, many GOP 2012 hopefuls like Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and Rick Perry also affirmed their opposition.
Personally, I would have to agree with the President and the general American public on this issue. Seventy-one percent of Americans believe that budget deficit reduction should include not only spending cuts, but also tax increases, according to a CBS News/New York Times poll on Sept. 19.
Obama said it best when he bluntly said, “this is not class warfare. It’s math.”
If we are going to get out of the hole into which we have dug ourselves, we have to compromise. If the political gridlock that has engulfed Washington continues, who knows where we could find ourselves in ten years. To not decide is to decide.
With all that’s going on in Washington, we need politicians to work together to get something done. Indecision already cost us back in August when our credit rating was downgraded.
It’s time for our elected leaders to act as though they represent the citizenry and not special interest groups.
Although Obama’s debt plan is not perfect, it is easily the best plan that’s come out of Washington in recent days. The only way out of this deficit is to cut unnecessary spending and increase revenues.
It’s not class warfare; it’s reality. We all need to sacrifice in order for the country to once again grow.
Matt Van Dyke is the current president of Capital Hill Gang, a political science club on campus. He can be contacted for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.