Fiscal Cliff 2013: Why the Obama Tax Plan Will Not Solve the Debt
The president’s strategy to focus so extensively on tax increases for the affluent to rectify the debt crisis is not a fair and balanced approach for his next four years.
Every American should contribute something to reduce the deficit and/or to improve the country. For sure, the lowliest Americans will feel pain as entitlements are pared back. But there is very little conversation about other sacrifices or commitments that can be made. The debt crisis is so large that depending on "the 1%" to ameliorate financial problems is shortsighted. The country also needs to reassess its values and aspirations to supplement the purely financial aspects of balancing the budget.
What can lower and middle class families do to help balance the federal budget in the long run and improve their prospects for the future? There are many things that can be done to improve America’s overall standard of living. Improved social conditions will decrease the amount of money currently required to subsidize the needy.
The federal government desperately needs help determining which social programs are no longer effective, and ones that have stopped benefitting those originally targeted. Money for these programs is now “getting lost in the system,” and likely lining the pockets of undeserving people. Our government only knows how to allocate funds for new projects and continue to pay for old ones in perpetuity. Rarely do we hear about the termination of social programs because they are antiquated. Why doesn’t the federal government seek out these situations and stop the bleeding? Lower and middle class citizens should assist the government in ending this waste and fraud. The money saved could be redeployed to new and productive projects or used to retire the nation’s debt.
Educational reform in our country could have the most meaningful long-term impact on the economic status of average Americans. Unfortunately, proposed changes by reformers always encounter great resistance. In recent months there has been a minor epiphany, as government and local leaders have beaten down union demands on behalf of students and teachers. The objective is to isolate union bosses who are purportedly more concerned about union power than anything else.
But the problem is much deeper than test scores and teacher salaries. Urban students do not believe education is important. This phenomenon is a function of poor guidance in the schools, values imparted by families, peer pressure, or a combination of all these items. Parents must play a greater role in an effort to make education a more important priority for their children. Ultimately, better-educated students will have access to more jobs and better pay. But, this entails a commitment from parents that frankly does not exist at this time.
During this period of economic stress and unemployment more young people should consider public service such as the military where they can learn a trade, and charitable organizations. It is a much more productive lifestyle than staying at home and collecting aid.
In the same vein, the federal government must step up its commitment to reducing unemployment. Work programs, regardless of the costs, should be created for those out of work. Welfare for able-bodied individuals should be eliminated. I am confident that the costs of such a tradeoff, work programs for welfare, would be well received by Americans who are being asked to pay higher taxes. The result of these efforts will be greater self-esteem, increased tax rolls, less trouble for young people, and more families living independent of aid from the state.
A monstrous area of abuse and fraud is tax evasion. To be sure, evasion is prevalent throughout America and in all countries around the world. A 2012 IRS report about tax payments in 2006 indicated that nearly $300 billion of individual income taxes due were not paid. Just think how important this money would be towards reducing our deficit. The aforementioned number excludes tax evasion by businesses.
Why doesn’t it make sense to increase the enforcement staff of the IRS and root out the tax evaders? The payoff is clear. If you take half of the amount lost to tax thieves and multiply it times ten years, the resultant $1.5 trillion would make a serious dent in the national debt.
The FBI estimates that the country is subjected to $80 billion of annual health care fraud every year. Once again, it would make sense to increase enforcement in this area because the returns could be very good.
Our nation will fail in its effort to become more prosperous if the only source of support for improved conditions is 1% of the population. 100% of Americans must participate in the revitalization of the country. Support can take many forms other than money. There is strength in families, neighborhoods, schools, and places of worship. We need to engage all of these to help those that are struggling to find ways to support themselves and their families. The current strategy to bleed the wealthy and not focus on improvement of the lower classes is a recipe for disaster, hardship, unhappiness, and continued enslavement by the state.
And finally, the federal government must identify Americans who cheat. I mentioned taxes and health care in this essay, but there are so many areas in which people cheat the government and each other. They are sources of funds that will not be taken away from honest citizens, as taxes would. Strict enforcement is a way to generate billions in a relatively short period of time.