May 10, 2011

Tell it to your grandmother

There is a school of thought when it comes to writing that the goal is to make things so clear that one could explain it to a grandparent who was unfamiliar with the issue.

As an exercise, here's how I'd explain the current deficit/federal budget debate to one of mine (if any were still around).

Why do we have big deficits?

1. Because of the Bush tax cuts, which went disproportionally to the wealthy. (Solution: end them, or some of them anyhow);

2. Because of the wars, including particularly the Bush administration's war of choice in Iraq. (Solution: see above, minus the qualifiers.)

3. Because of the recession. For one thing, when the economy tanks, so do tax revenues. Also, various social programs--such as food stamps, unemployment insurance, and Medicaid--are designed to go up when the economy goes down while they help people get through the recession.

The Recovery Act and TARP were temporary programs designed to end the worst downturn since the Great Depression. And they kind of did, at least as far as helping the economy to grow again. We would probably be in better shape as far as jobs and economic growth go if the Recovery Act would have been bigger or more targeted to direct job creation.

In fact, Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has argued that the first priority should be getting Americans back to work.

4. Because of the rising cost of health care. The Affordable Care Act has provisions that will help in this, but more needs to be done. Republican plans to gut Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP would do nothing to address health care costs--they'd just pass them on to consumers.

One more question: Why did we have the recession? My short answer is that we owe it to a lack of regulation in the finance sector of the economy. And the big dogs on Wall Street are the same drunk drivers asking to borrow the car keys again.

Final thoughts: seniors on Medicare aren't the problem. Nor are elderly or disable people or children on Medicaid. Nor are college students who receive Pell grants. Nor are families who rely on food stamps to get by. They didn't cause it and they shouldn't bear the brunt of dealing with it.

MCWORLD. Our world?



No comments: