We the People: Week of October 18

Hope for the future

We have difficult tasks before us. The American people have faced monumental tasks before where failure was not an option. Confidence and hard work eventually lead to success. We conquered a continent, led an Industrial Revolution, defeated the Nazis, won the Cold War, led a Silicon Revolution all while we maintained liberty in our hearts and homes. The challenges are daunting but the fear of failure is the greatest obstacle to finding solutions to seemingly impossible tasks.

Conventional thinking in Albany and Washington D.C. moves forward from a starting point to a distant goal. We need backward thinking that moves backward from the goal to the starting point.

We have a monumental $14 trillion national debt and everyone has a complicated plan that promises a solution. If the federal government committed to debt reduction as part of every federal budget, we could pay down the debt a million or billion dollars at a time.

It would take a commitment to start doing it and never stopping until a significant goal was achieved, i.e. 25 percent or 50 percent reduction. We need simple goals where progress toward the solution can be monitored.

The American people appreciate that Mitt Romney has learned to change his message and adapt during his campaign. He knows that his ideas and beliefs do not make sense for most Americans.

Now, he just makes promises that cannot be kept. The Romney economic plan promised on day one to reduce corporate income tax rate to 25 percent, negotiate new trade agreements, drill for oil in new areas, consolidate federal employment programs and return the money to the states and immediately cut spending to reduce the annual federal budget by $20 billion.

Even if his plan added up it does not make sense. How will he increase defense spending while reducing the federal budget and reducing taxes? He says he will raise revenue but reduce individual and corporate income tax.

Economists cannot produce the results he promises when using real numbers and tax projections. Romney makes much of closing “loopholes” to raise tax revenue without raising tax. This reform contemplates removing all deductions for wage earners who earn $100,000 in salary. When I cannot deduct my mortgage interest or state and property taxes, then my federal income tax has been increased!

I received a mailing from a state senator that crowed that taxpayers in New York have the lowest tax rates in 58 years and that the MTA payroll tax for small businesses has been eliminated. Hooray!

My property taxes are three times the amount they were when I bought my first home, gasoline taxes and government fees are higher than ever and water taxes have tripled in the past seven years. So it’s nice to hear that things are better, but as we prepare to shoulder an MTA fare hike, the self-praise rings hollow.

If corporate income taxes and personal income tax rates are reduced and spending stays the same, our national debt will increase. If tax revenue is not reduced and spending is not increased, our national debt will increase anyway. The fact that we have such a large debt means that it will increase on its own due to the cost of debt service. The Romney Plan needs Billy Crystal from SNL to paraphrase his line for a television ad: “It’s better to sound good than to be good.”

We need leaders to do good even when the problems are difficult. Mayor Bloomberg was sure that doubling the spending on education and closing schools that could not get satisfactory results would transform the education system.

Now some of the schools he closed and reopened are getting set to be closed again. It’s time to look at the problem in a backward way. We want educated students so let’s look at a set of skills that is differentiated for the more than a million students in the New York City school system. We will never get a million Nobel Prize winners but if we get every student to learn to his or her potential, we can achieve satisfactory results.


A workshop will be held at P.S. 264 at 371 88th Street on November 14 at 7 p.m. The workshop is open to all and is sponsored by the Task Force to Develop Fourth Avenue. It is essential that anyone who walks, bikes or drives, participates and becomes part of this process.

Everyone who can walk, bike, drive or crawl must come out on Election Day, November 6, 2012 and have their voices heard and be part of that process. We must select leaders who will be good at doing good not just being good at making good promises.

Brian Kieran is an attorney who works as a principal law clerk in the Supreme Court of the State of New York in Kings County and is a Democrat.

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