Our partisan political system is failing the people of America.As an August 2, 2011 deadline for the nation to adjust the debtceiling limit or default on obligations looms, Congress,practically speaking, has done nothing to provide a solution to theproblem. The drama and uncertainty have already hurt America’staxpayers. Our government is saddled with a $14.5 trillion nationaldebt and $110 trillion dollars in unfunded obligations.Ronald Reagan, when America was gripped by recession and doubledigit unemployment in 1982, raised excise taxes, gasoline taxes,Social Security taxes and corporate taxes. The Treasury Departmentestimates those same tax increases today would equal $300 billiondollars in increased revenue. President Reagan was not excoriatedas a tax-and-spend politician.Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) criticized the fact that President Reaganhad to compromise to get some things done. Responsible leadersneed to debate issues and find common ground in order to providesolutions to problems. Kyl previously mischaracterized facts whileadvocating that funding for Planned Parenthood should be strippedsince 90 percent of its operation was devoted to abortion.His office retracted the statement with an explanation that thesenator’s comment was not intended to be a factual statement. Theleaders of the party caucuses must rein in their members,especially when they address emotional issues with emotionalrhetoric instead of facts.**America needs comprehensive changes to the way it taxes and spends.American corporations, due to generous tax breaks and well-designedloopholes in the IRS code, contribute less to the federal taxbasket than ever in our history.In 1955, American corporate taxes made up approximately 30 percentof federal tax revenue but that has dropped to less than 10 percentin 2010. These corporations would serve themselves better by payinga fair share of the tax burden so that investment in education ofthe workforce and investment in infrastructure of the nation ismade by the government.There are glimmers of hope: Some Republicans have spoken ofincluding cuts to farm subsidies as part of proposed spendingreductions. In 2011, the government gave $16 billion to farmoperators and agri-business corporations, and some of the moneywent to payments for not planting crops.A bipartisan group of senators known as the Gang of Six hasproposed, on its own, proposals to cut spending and raise revenueto take care of the debt ceiling crisis. This caused someideologues to foam at the mouth.Grover Norquist, a conservative spin doctor, stated that if anysenator even allowed temporary tax cuts to expire, that would be aviolation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. When it appeared thatPresident Obama, on his own, tried to push negotiations on theceiling with Republicans, that caused Rep. Pelosi (D-Cal.) andSenator Reid (D-Nev.) to become apoplectic.Sen. Chambliss (R-Ga.) insightfully stated that an increase inrevenue (is) going to have to be part of any plan to solve longterm debt. Every person in America realizes that we must livereasonably, speak reasonably and behave reasonably or the futurewill be grim.A poet said that everyone should take the time to hear a song, reada poem, see a picture and speak a few reasonable words every day. Iam optimistic that it can be done in Washington, D.C. but I am acautious optimist.Brian Kieran is a community activist who works for the State of NewYork and is a Democrat.
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