Sometime in the next month, the president and congressional Republicans will cut a budget deal. I don’t expect anything from the GOP but I do hope President Obama doesn’t give away the store in an effort to get Congress to raise the federal debt ceiling.
The independent Pew Research Center conducted a national survey in late May on options to reduce the national debt. I hope the president takes a look at it before he strikes a deal with the GOP. Pundits always claim that politicians blindly follow the polls but that hasn’t been the case in Washington in a long while. If people in Washington actually paid attention to public opinion, the country would be in much better shape.
The Pew Center asked a random sample of 1,500 of Americans to rate options for reducing the federal deficit. Here’s what our fellow citizens want to do to reduce the deficit.
- Raise taxes on incomes over $250,00: 66% approve
- Reduce overseas military commitments: 65% approve
- Limit tax deductions for large corporations: 62% approve
- Gradually raise the Social Security retirement age: 36% approve
- Cut federal aid to states for things like education and roads: 23% approve
President Obama has already bargained away the most popular option, which is to eliminate the big Bush tax breaks for bankers and billionaires. If Republicans really cared about the size of the deficit, they would repeal the extension of the Bush tax giveaways that the president and Congress agreed to last year. The GOP should also support the president’s proposal to cut Pentagon spending. The GOP plan doesn't cut any military spending. It made sense to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on bases in Western Europe during the cold war but it’s a complete waste of money now. [Check out cartoons on the national budget and deficit.]
I hope President Obama sticks to his guns with his plan to cut tax breaks for greedy oil companies that are making record profits and screwing taxpayers at the same time. Please don’t give in to Republican demands to cut education spending. To succeed in a world of cutthroat economic competition, we need to support education more than ever. [See photos of the Obamas behind the scenes.]
Hubert H. Humphrey often used these words to describe the mission of government: “It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children, those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly, and those who are in the shadow of life, the sick, needy and the handicapped.”
Words to the wise. I hope the president remembers them as he negotiates with Congressional Republicans.