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We the People: Balance is key

The president met Republicans and Democrats behind closed doors and the meetings were described as constructive. We get action when our legislators replace their desire for a battleground with a plan to create common ground.

Democrats propose a spending plan: a $1 trillion increase in revenues through elimination of tax loopholes and $1.5 trillion in spending cuts. Republicans, including Representative Paul Ryan, propose $4.6 trillion in cuts over 10 years with no revenue enhancement.

The truth is that if the sides could meet in the middle, we would have a good balanced plan. President Obama said that a budget that encourages more economic growth is more important than one with draconian cuts to social programs made just to balance the budget.

However, unchecked government spending is a recipe for catastrophe in America. Detroit recently “discovered” a $7 billion debt caused by unaccounted-for healthcare costs for retired municipal workers. We can preserve services for the people and reduce spending. It will only be more difficult if we put off the decisions for another day.

Mayor Bloomberg, criticized for his proposed supersize soda ban, is addressing problems. He stated that the law will fight obesity and diabetes. The “ban” only limits the size of a sugary drink (16 ounces). A consumers may refill the cup or take any amount in multiple cups.

An American Diabetes Association study estimates that diabetes costs America $245 billion a year, which is a 41 percent increase in healthcare cost. Sixty two percent of that cost is covered by government insurance like Medicare and Medicaid.

Sugar from a single can of soda a day increases the incidence of type-2 diabetes by one percent. Today, Medicare is busting the budgets of large states like New York. Every day, Americans consume more than 20 teaspoons of sugar, most of which is hidden in soda and processed foods.

Mayor Bloomberg also continues to advocate for gun violence victims while the NRA has continues to fight to the death on behalf of gun manufacturers. Gun rights supporters have no solution to curb gun violence but like to repeat platitudes like “guns don’t kill people, only people kill people”. That nonsense avoids tough decision-making and is no comfort to the families of gun violence.

There are critical decisions that need to be made on immigration reform, tort law reform and education in America. Our healthcare and social security systems need more workers to support them, which will necessitate a legal path to citizenship for law-abiding and tax-paying immigrants.

Huge jury verdicts are eating up the budgets of municipal governments everywhere. Our high schools fail to graduate 40 percent of students in four years. We don’t have unlimited time to dance around every single issue interminably.

Reasonable Congressional Republicans should propose a fair budget compromise. How about $3 billion in spending cuts over 10 years, including defense cuts and tax loophole elimination, to raise $500 billion in revenue?

New York State could save money by returning Brooklyn’s Surrogate Court to the control of a single surrogate again. In 2005, the legislature created a second surrogate for the court although it was run for approximately 200 years with a single surrogate.

Supreme Court Justice Bruce Balter recently received the assignment to act as a third surrogate to help with backlogged cases! Sources familiar with the court reported that tension between the two elected Surrogates, Margarita Lopez Torres and Diana Johnson, has created the backlog. We could save money and time by returning the court to a single surrogate again.

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