Columns / Discourse / February 27, 2013

Sequester ails Congress

At this point, it would be a challenge to find anyone not fed up with Congress. One of the main reasons for this is the dreaded “sequestration.” For those not in the loop, sequestration refers to the massive cuts that will be made if Congress cannot come to an agreement on how to face the nations debt. In all, if Congress does not pass something saying otherwise, $1.2 trillion will be cut, resulting in disastrous economic consequences. So one has to ask, how did we get here?

It all started back in 2011 when Congress was unable to come to an agreement about raising the debt ceiling (or the amount of money the government is allowed to borrow). In particular, Republicans, much to their credit, felt it would be irresponsible to simply raise the debt ceiling without a plan of how to get the money back. So a compromise was made in which it was decided that if an agreement was not made prior to 2013, the standard cuts would kick in to all things including the defense budget as well as social programs. The thinking was, and still is, that these cuts would be devastating to the U.S. economy and thus provide a real incentive to compromise. But when the “super committee” of both Democrats and Republicans failed to come together, it was clear things would not be looking so good for the start of 2013. However, many might recall this deadline being kicked back a few weeks ago. But alas, our nation finds itself at the cusp of economic suicide yet again, because for some reason our leaders cannot swallow their pride. Let me explain.

Republicans only want spending cuts and Democrats only want tax increases. This is the stereotype played out on the news, and for the most part it seems to be holding true. Republicans are urging Democrats to go through with a more balanced large spending cut in order to make compromise, but does that really help? It does not take a math genius to figure out that approaching the massive debt of this country from a cut or tax method just simply is not going to work. Even the strongest liberal will admit that there are many federal programs that are not being run as efficiently as they should.

This results in millions of wasted dollars that could be going to help the situation. By the same token, Republicans are willing to “eliminate loopholes” in the tax break but not increase taxes. First off, eliminating many of the ways that people with wealth can avoid taxes is effectively raising the tax rate, so I personally do not understand the standoff. More importantly, there are always going to be loopholes that people who can hire higher tier accountants and lawyers can take advantage of, so a quest to eliminate them all would seem rather inefficient. It’s time to take the middle path, if you will.

The solution here is simple, raise taxes slightly across the board and launch a commission to look into the ways government funds are being wasted. There are many programs that can be reformed as I mentioned above, and despite both sides insisting the taxing the middle class will end in chaos, it is time to see past the rhetoric. Will a slight tax increase be rough on people?

Absolutely. Will a commission into government use of funds take time and a bit of money itself? You had better believe it. But we as a nation need to realize that we are fighting for the long term here. No one is going to be able to solve this crisis in a day, a month, a year, even a presidential term, but if we all swallow our pride (even us tax payers), we can make a solution appear in the distance.

The economy is in fact turning around, according to Reuters, surveys of economists this year showed an impressive confidence for a decent economic growth this year. Our nation needs to use this growth to increase the federal revenue, while using the time it gives us to look for wasteful governmental procedures. This combination is a great compromise to keep everyone happy while in the long run doing what every congressperson signed on for: to lead our great country to generations of prosperity and improvement.

Payton Rose
Senior Payton Rose is a political science major with minors in creative writing and Spanish. This is his first year working for The Knox Student as discourse editor. He has written a political column for TKS for two years.

Tags:  budget congress defense budget democrat Republican Reuters social program tax

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