A Chance To Fix Our Fiscal Future

Jerry Coffee
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Wednesday - December 08, 2010
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Alan Simpson (left) and Erskine Bowles speak to the media in Washington Nov. 30

With the skyrocketing federal deficit these past several years, the politicians around Washington and the folks on Main Street USA are beginning to pay more attention to the grim realities of the future if nothing is done.

With the increasing guilt of harnessing our children with a crushing debt, denial finally seems to be on the wane.

This has all been brought into sharper focus as the co-chairmen of the President’s Debt Reduction Commission, Erskine Bowles and former Sen.

Alan Simpson, have held several press conferences this past week, making it fairly clear that no sacred cows have been left ungored.

Briefly, their plan addresses the Social Security crisis by incrementally raising the retirement age to 68 by 2050 and to 69 by 2075. That should give all future retirees plenty of time to make plans and get used to the idea.

There would be less-generous cost-of-living adjustments and an increased cap on income subject to Social Security taxes.

The plan includes a significant simplification of the present federal income tax system with lower tax rates and fewer deductions. Corporate tax rates would be reduced from 35 percent to 28 percent, and the federal gasoline tax would be increased by 15 cents per gallon.

There would be a three-year freeze on federal workers’ pay, which should be no big problem since the average federal workers’ pay is now twice that of the private sector. And 200,000 federal jobs would be eliminated by attrition.

The plan also eliminates “earmark” spending whereby lawmakers tack on funding for local pet projects totally unrelated to the legislation being voted upon.

As you might imagine, the Bowles-Simpson plan for deficit reduction has engendered lively pro and con debate, but there is a growing sentiment that it may be at least the best starting point we have ever seen. As Lincoln once said, “America is the world’s last best hope.” It could be said the Bowles-Simpson plan is America’s “last best hope.” Yes, our debt crisis is that dire.

By the time you read this column, the 18 members of the commission will have voted on the proposal. If 14 vote in favor of it, the plan will go to both houses of Congress for debate and approval, and that will be the time for us all (Democrat and Republican) to contact our congressional representatives urging them to take advantage of this rare opportunity.


three star

In my first column more than six years ago, I pledged to - among other things - always tell the truth to the best of my ability, and to never bow to political correctness.

Well, we are entering the Christmas season when the Grinches of PC will try to have their way with us: Happy Holidays! Season’s Greetings! Merry Cranberries! ... Don’t dare say the word Christmas for fear of offending someone. Or, as Harry Potter would say, “He who shall not be named.” Oh, would that be Christ, whose birthday we are celebrating?

So when you get that syrupy greeting, “Happy Holidays!” or “Season’s Greetings!,” just smile big and say, “And you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!”

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