Jewish World Review July 27, 2011 / 26 Tamuz, 5771
The Road to Serfdom: More Debt, Less Leadership
By Paul Greenberg
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Looking for a clear, concise, simple explanation of why it's important -- indeed, vital -- to hold the line against raising the federal debt limit unless federal spending is cut at least as much? Then check this out:
"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. government can't pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our government's reckless fiscal policies. ... Increasing America's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that 'the buck stops here.' Instead,
No, that isn't
And, no, it isn't a budget hawk like
It's another of the country's leading politicians, though you'd be forgiven for not guessing which one.
But things have changed since then, or at least
Those who grow accustomed to living beyond their means will soon enough find their means shrinking as their debt expands. Just as Sen. Obama was warning only five years ago. Five years in which the national debt has increased by more than half, going from some
But now he's eager to raise the debt limit still again. He brings to mind the teenager who, when told he's outspending his allowance, explains that he's not spending too much, it's just that his allowance is too small.
Not quite. One catch to that quick fix is that the rich, or at least their tax attorneys and tax accountants, their trust officers and estate planners, are sure to find still more ways to put their money into tax shelters -- rather than invest their capital in ventures that would produce a lot more jobs for the rest of us. And get this stalled economy rolling again.
Here's another problem with the Obama Panacea: At last report, the richest 5 percent of American earners were already paying almost 60 percent of federal income taxes, and the top 10 percent were paying 70 percent. How much more can government take without reducing the private sector, the real revenue-generator and jobs-producer of the American economy, to insignificance?
To use a metaphor as old as Aesop, how long can taxes on the largest incomes be raised without killing the goose that lays the golden eggs? How long can the highest earners be expected to bear so great a proportion of the tax burden -- and even more of it if this president has his way?
After a while, there just aren't enough rich folks to soak. While the high earners are paying a larger and larger percentage of income taxes, the bottom half of American taxpayers -- 50 percent -- pay only 2.7 percent of all income taxes collected.
There's something seriously askew with this picture. It indicates an imbalance that cannot be sustained indefinitely. Which is why the national debt has grown to an alarming level, and the economy is groaning under the burden of so much debt -- of just paying the interest on so much debt.
There will always be those politicians who think they've found a painless way to keep spending. Unfortunately, the pain is already being felt as prices go up and employment down.
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JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.
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