US Currency

A Balanced Plan for Deficit Reduction

The deficit, and the growing national debt, will be major issue in the current campaign — and they should be.

We must reduce the federal deficits and the national debt. But we must do so in a responsible way.

The Republican plan calls for massive spending cuts, and no tax increases on the wealthy. This is not a responsible plan.

When President Clinton was elected, he proposed a balanced approach that included both spending cuts and tax increases. Not a single Republican in either the Senate or the House of Representatives voted for the legislation, but it was passed by a Democratic Congress.

By the time Clinton left office, the federal budget deficit had been eliminated and we were beginning to pay down the national debt. And during the Clinton years, the economy was the strongest it had been in decades.

Now compare the Clinton plan with the plan pursued by the Reagan-Bush administration and the George W. Bush administration.

After Reagan passed his signature tax reduction legislation:

The federal deficit increased every year of the Reagan-Bush administrations.

During the Reagan years alone, the national debt tripled.

In eight years,Reagan added more to the national debt than had been added in nearly 200 years.

Then came George W. Bush who reduced taxes on the wealthy in 2001 and again in 2003.

Prior to the 2003 tax cuts, a group of over 400 prominent economists, including 10 Nobel Prize winners, authored a full page article in the New York Times [February 11, 2003] warning that “passing these tax cuts will worsen the long-term budget outlook, adding to the nation’s projected chronic deficits.“

No one in the Bush administration listened, and during the Bush administration the national debt almost doubled.

Now the Republicans want to return to the policies of Reagan and Bush. We cannot let it happen.

HISTORY HAS PROVEN THAT THE REPUBLICAN PLAN IS WRONG

Republicans love to point to Ronald Reagan and claim that his tax reductions — in 1981 — lead to economic growth in the 1980′s. But they conveniently ignore the fact that, in 1983, when it became obvious that the 1981 tax cuts were hurting the economy, Reagan was also responsible for the largest tax increase in American history. In fact, Reagan increased taxes nine times during his administration.

Phil Roe is solidly with the Republican leadership. He wants to return to tax reduction policies that have been proven to be dangerous for the country.

We need a balanced approach to controlling the budget and reducing the national debt.

We need a Congressman who actually understands tax and economic policy.

Phil Roe has taken a pledge to never increase taxes — especially on the wealthy — no matter how necessary that may be.

I am committed to responsible deficit and debt reduction.

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Equality vs Equality of Opportunity

Ultra-conservative Republican politicians are constantly trying to divide the voters by claiming that the Democrats want to make us all “equal” by penalizing the wealthy (with higher taxes) and creating “give-away” programs for everyone else. This is just another Republican effort to divide us.

Democrats don’t want to make everyone equal. All they are trying to do is give everyone an equal opportunity.

A child whose family is homeless — or who goes to school hungry — does not have an equal opportunity to learn.

The children of the average working family cannot afford the rising cost of a college education. Without the federal assistance programs the Republicans want to eliminate they don’t have an equal opportunity to get a college education.

The person whose job was shipped to China, and doesn’t have the skills needed in what remains of our economy does, not have an equal opportunity to provide for his family’s future.

We cannot assure that everyone succeeds, and we shouldn’t try. But we should assure that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.

I don’t believe in government give-aways to people who will not try to help themselves. But I do believe in helping anyone who will also do his or her own part to succeed.

There are many people who cannot — for reasons of health, physical or mental impairment or other reasons — fully provide for themselves. As a moral, civilized and charitable Christian society, we must respond to their needs.

Here are also some people who will not do what do what is needed to provide for themselves. As a civilized society, we cannot allow anyone to starve. But we have every right to expect something in return for our help.

We do not live in the America of our Founding Fathers.

When our nation was formed, most people were farmers or had small businesses. The skills they required to succeed were minimal, and formal education was not essential. Everyone had an equal opportunity to succeed. But that is no longer the world we live in.

Today, most Americans have work for someone else, and the forces that govern the economy — and everyone’s financial well-being — are controlled by someone else.

While some of our Founding Fathers were undoubtedly very wealthy by the standards of the day, the nation they created was intended to be governed by the people. They had just fought a war to rid themselves of control by a wealthy aristocracy that suppressed the ability of the people to control their own destinies.

Today, we have a new aristocracy – big corporations and the very rich. With their money they control who gets elected. With their political influence, they protect and extend their power.

Poverty, and the need for public assistance, do not exist simply because people don’t want to work. Poverty exists largely because we have failed to adequately educate people for the job market. Poverty exist because the jobs for which people of limited education are qualified have been shipped overseas. Poverty exists because, in many parts of the country, big corporations will not pay their workers a decent wage.

Obviously, the real problem is more complex than this. The point is that the “blame” for poverty does not rest entirely with the people who are poor.

Political commentators like to show graphs showing the continuing divergence in the income of the middle-class and the top 10% since 1980. But it is not just a coincidence that 1980 was about the time that the first generation where a high percentage of people with college degrees were reaching their peak earning years.

The solution is not to ignore the poor.  The poor are often faced with complicated problems that most people don’t think about.  Everyday items like toiletries are not readily available as many people live paycheck to paycheck.  They need help with making sure that they know where their next meal is coming from or help with credit repair and financial education so they are able to adequately participate in our society by way of being able to rent a home and eventually buy a home.

The solution is not to end all programs of public assistance.

The solution is to fix our failing educational system and fix our system of jobs training. The solution is to make skill training an integral part of our public assistance program so that people have an opportunity to succeed. The solution is for government to work with business to create jobs, and fill them with people who want to work but don’t have the opportunity.

We have a major “dropout” problem. Too few of our citizens finish high school, and we have to do something about that.

But the Republican (and Phil Roe) response is, “Too bad. You were irresponsible. Live with it.“

I disagree. A foolish act as a youth should not condemn anyone to second-class citizenship.

We need to expand our commitment to adult education and job training (and retraining) for adults. If someone is willing to help himself, we have a duty to provide them with the opportunity.