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Barlow Herget Commentary
Barlow Herget is a commentator and host on State Government Radio at Curtis Media. He has been a commentator on UNC public radio and an instructor in continuing education at Duke University. Herget was a Nieman Fellow ('70) at Harvard University, has worked for the Daily Press of Paragould, Ark., the Detroit Free Press, and the News & Observer of Raleigh. His articles have appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times and numerous other publications. Contact him by email.
Another option to balance budget
Monday - 3/14/2011, 2:32pm EDT
House Speaker John Boehner says the same thing in Washington. "There are no more bailouts coming from Washington," he says. "We're broke. We're broke. We don't have money…"
He and his new Republican majority say they must cut $60 billion from this year's budget and that's just a start on how much they plan to cut from next year's budget to reduce the swollen deficit.
There's just no money. That's the message, and it's repeated by Mr. Boehner in Washington and Governor Walker in Wisconsin and Republicans across the land. They have no choice in the matter. Most of the media have not challenged this message.
But political leaders do have a choice. It's not politically popular, and for some conservatives, it's not even to be mentioned.
It's called taxes.
Only those of us not running for office dare discuss taxes, but it is the responsibility of government to tax the people to run the government or, in this case, to pay off debts. Conservatives like to compare government budgeting to that of a family: if you have less money, you must reduce your spending.
Left unsaid is that you can figure out a way to bring in more money, which is what millions of middle class American have had to do for the past 15 to 20 years when they take on second jobs. That's what our government must do eventually if we're to pay down on the deficit.
It's common sense and an economic reality that Americans, at some point, are going to pay for their debts with higher taxes. And conservative presidents are mostly to blame, starting with President Reagan and carrying through President George W. Bush who started two wars and paid for neither.
Some may argue that elected officials can drastically reduce or eliminate Social Security, Medicare, and defense spending. There's less chance for that than higher taxes such as those once imposed on the wealthiest Americans.
President Obama made a deal last December with Republicans to extend tax cuts for two years that were due to expire. If they are serious about reducing the deficit, they will reconsider that move and restore at least higher taxes on those who easily afford it - the very rich.
There is a growing and dangerous inequality between the wealthiest Americans and the rest of the country. The tax structure has been used in the past to level that disparity.
For some politicians, it's easy to say never to new taxes, but it's not good business. Who knows a business person who will say never to raising prices on his products?
When politicians say they have no choice but to cut government programs, it's not true. They have a choice, and it's called taxes. The media should remind them of that choice.