We the People: A good life requires good work

Our stubborn partisan political system succeeded in downgradingthe U.S. debt rating last week. The compromise deal to raise thedebt limit ceiling will, without a doubt, fail to cut spending sothis crisis will be revisited.

What is wrong with our Washington politicians? The Isle of Manenjoys a better credit rating than the U.S. The stock market istaking pension systems and 401K accounts for a roller coaster everyother day. When Greece has a better debt rating than the U.S.,maybe Washington can take action.

Michael Grimm stated that he reluctantly supported the debt ceilingcompromise legislation although it will alienate conservativeconstituents. He should be proud of his ability to compromise andit will serve him well when moving on to the issue of job creation.Senator Schumer and Representative Grimm agree that the economyneeds more jobs.

Washington must fashion a fiscal plan that is feasible and thenpass simple legislation without loopholes in order to achieve it.Although people shout, Balance the budget! that is a verydifficult-to-achieve goal and one that may not be good for oureconomy.

We must stabilize the debt which is burdening the economy now. Ifour national debt could be lowered to 60 percent of GDP, it wouldfree tax revenue for other purposes and return our credit rating toAAA.

At least $5 trillion in savings would be needed to accomplish thatgoal. Such a financial goal can only be achieved through amulti-year plan and that plan must be permitted to reduce spendingin every portion of the budget.

It is obvious that any fiscal plan must also increase revenue. Thismeans tax. Corporations and the wealthy pay less income tax thanthey ever did in the past.

One reason that Americans possess the ability to accumulate wealthis that they live in a stable and progressive society comprised ofeducated and hard-working citizens. That society is made possiblethrough a vast infrastructure paid for by the expenditure of publicmoney. Everyone needs to pay a fair share.

Any multi-year plan Congress considers should incorporate atime-limited income tax specifically earmarked for debt reduction.A temporary tax with a sunset provision could provide directrevenue to the public debt so that $20 to $200 billion could beretired over the next 10 years.

In addition, Social Security needs to be fixed once and for all.Americans are living longer. A raise in the retirement age, a limiton cost-of-living adjustments and means testing for benefitswould make Social Security sustainable.

Any plan considered should be multilayered. We need to reducespending, we need to increase revenue and we need to reform the waywe spend tax revenue. Politicians on both sides of the aisle liketo talk tough about the economy but all we get is talk and noaction.

So far, no fiscal plan put forth by any politician in Washingtonhas a chance of success. One fiscal plan could link an automaticfive or 10 percent cut in spending across the board automaticallywhenever U.S. debt approaches a ceiling or budget spending exceedsrevenue.

We need sufficient revenue to run our government and economy. Weneed politicians to get out of the business of re-election and getback into the business of leadership. It is hard work being aleader but life grants nothing to us without hard work.

Brian Kieran is a community activist who works for the State ofNew York and is a Democrat.

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