Las Vegas Sun

May 4, 2015

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Letter to the editor:

Gridlock is decades in the making

A new book by Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein misses the bigger issue when it places blame on the Republicans for gridlock in Congress. Yes, the Republicans have used the filibuster to hold up legislation and nominations and the filibuster rules should be changed.

However, anyone who looks fairly at how long Congress has known about but taken no action regarding the impending financial issues with Social Security and Medicare, our deficit spending issues, our mounting debt, our broken income tax system, our unresolved immigration issues, the waste in government programs, both defense and domestic, knows that this gigantic and long-standing inaction is not the result of a single party.

Our problems are acute and the solutions will be painful and highly unpopular. This is the reason we see so much gridlock. Our representatives, on all sides, are scared to death to tell the following truths:

• Most of the issues we face as a nation are the result of this and previous Congresses not doing a good job.

• There is no way to address these issues without pain for Americans.

• Tax increases on all Americans and reduced government spending in many areas must be part of any solution.

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  1. It is fitting this weekemd for us to remember and honor those who have made the supreme sacrifice for our country. If our politics reflected that willingness to sacrifice we would be well on our way to solving our problems.

    The wealthy alone can't solve our revenue problem because there are too few of them. The middle class can't solve our spending problem alone beacause too many are affected. We will all experience pain in the process of solving this problem. We will all have to put our country ahead of our money or we will all end up with neither.

  2. Re Freeman,

    Too large a portion of the American public depends on government at this point for them to agree to massive cuts in government spending. That's just a fact. I'd be ok with a re-write of the income tax code to hopefully generate more revenue. If that's not enough and I suspect it won't be, then I favor across the board tax increases. I'd hope the economy had improved some before the tax increases were implemented.

    For a long time now, it's been obvious that Americans are unwilling to be taxed at a rate necessary to fund being a global superpower and running many very large progressive domestic programs.

    Instead of dealing with the problem, we allowed our government to borrow and print the money required that didn't come in through taxes.

    I think the only way we are ever going to decide how big a superpower we can afford to be and how many social programs we can afford to fund is to stop printing and borrowing, and tax ourselves enough to pay for everything. Then we could decide what exactly it is we are willing to pay to be and to do.


  3. Carmine,

    We don't live in a dictatorship and in this democracy that approach isn't going to fly. Think about how many Americans are going to lose their jobs and how many will lose government assistance if we just cut government spending. It's millions, Carmine. These people are not going to support cutting their own throats. We've already passed the tipping point where so many Americans are dependent on government, the support for what you and many Tea Partier's want simply isn't there.

    I'm not one who thinks we don't need to cut spending but logic tells me in this instance, trying to cut without raising taxes too simply won't fly.


  4. Dennis,

    The 'one trick pony' idea on either side just isn't going to work. More taxes on everyone? Yes! Real spending cuts in social programs, military spending, etc? Yes! We must do it all.


  5. Our country's wellness has been a grand illusion for the sake of politicians seeking office and favors for a very long, long time. Kicking the political can down the road has been practiced for years, leading our country into disease and being too crippled to function properly. Writer Michael Casler remarked, "...that this gigantic and long-standing inaction is not the result of a single party." ALL our elected leaders and complacent citizenry are responsible for decades of political posturing and personal agendas. Gridlock is where we are now, and there is no sign of change without the removal of partisan influences.

    Commenter Joe Lamy presented this analogy, "please accept where I am suggesting we go - to the round table, the one with no sides.

    Unless we can see how this history of tug-of-war places our republic in peril from pushing agendas, then the concentration of wealth and disintegration of the welfare of this great nation will come full circle."

    It seems fitting, as we honor those who sacrificed for the good of ALL in not only our country, but also for the sake of world peace, this Memorial Day weekend, we should be diligent in removing the barriers that keep our country from being great, and being fully functional. Let us honor and appreciate our servicemen, servicewomen, and those citizens who supported our national cause each and every day with being good stewards of a land that they fought and worked tirelessly to defend.

    Blessings and Peace,

  6. As mentioned by someone else, if we did the zero-based budget thing the liberals would have more trouble getting so much UNentitlement spending year after year. Michael, could you find a way to explain to RefNV that the Bush tax cuts and other legislation has astronomically increased the hand-outs to those who claim minimal employment. They can actually pretend to have worked a month at minimum wage and get thousands in unearned refunds by claiming such things as earned income credit, additional earned income credit, child credit, child care credits which are based on claiming lots of kids as dependents--even while collecting welfare.

  7. Carmine and others: We can't do the "and then." We must take multiple steps in every direction that improves things. We can't wait until government hums along functioning perfecting at minimal cost. We must CUT spending, cut PROGRAMS NOW. The constitution delineates the ESSENTIAL functions of the federal government. Everything else is for the people with some help from local governments, including states. It's a very broad interpretation that our national defense includes funding social welfare and "defense" training in every rat-hole fourth-world population. We don't live in that idealized world that would enable us to take care of every person born anywhere. (And then there is the Maltesian concept of if you save one now, you get a couple hundred more that can't feed themselves.) I just saw Simpson and Bowles on the tube and they say they are just "doing the math." Hey MC weren't we just talking about that? The math of tax increases (or cuts) and spending reform proposals just doesn't work unless we get SERIOUS quickly. And then it may take generations--for any reasonable estimates of economic recovery.

  8. There is no easy fix.

  9. RefNV: Is there an internet source for how much tax revenue is given out by credit type--"earned" income credit, for example?

  10. Ref: I scrolled down a lot at your heritage cite and found the anti-poverty. Noted that Child Tax Credits has surged more than TWO THOUSAND PERCENT.

  11. Additional revenue has to come from a national sales tax. The nation needs to tap into the $600 trillion worth of future consumption in the next 40 years. The income tax system needs to go. Tax avoidance is a national pastime. Do you really think the millions of unemployed people are not generating income from someplace? Working under the table, drug sales, prostitution, cheating on taxes all deprive the government of massive amounts of money and fill people's pockets. While working narcotics for the Santa Monica Police Department we found people generating thousands of dollars a day in illicit income.

    Recently a woman submitted a letter to the paper complaining about the new law requiring to collect sales tax. It's nice that she let the world know she was a tax cheat. The state already has a use tax. Items purchased outside of Nevada that are used in Nevada are taxable and she should be sending money to the state for these items.

  12. This country experienced very high growth rates when we were young and their was very little international competition. Another words before China, India, Latin America became strong competitors. High growth rates are impossible to sustain today. In the post-World War II era we had several years in which GDP was 7% to 14%. If you exclude the super high growth years a couple of percent a year is all we would've gotten.

    We need drastic cuts in medical. Our medical bills are going to consume $150 trillion over the next few decades. Reports have come out recently indicate medical could be 50% of GDP within the next 20 years. That's money people won't be able to spend on cars, trucks, cameras, furniture, houses etc. This is particularly problematic for this country being our entire economy is consumption driven. You can't have a nation where people do nothing more than eat, sleep and pay medical bills. Even the military is having the put off new weapons development because of the $100 billion a year in medical costs they are facing. This is up from $16 billion a year 10 years ago.

  13. Gerry: We can cut medical costs without cutting medical care. We sometimes pay more for the insurance than what the benefits cost. We don't need all the "medical" we're getting. Needless procedures that disable us--endless prostrate surgeries leaving elderly men incontinent as they die from other things. Endless prescription drugs, 12 seems to be the national average, for seniors. One drug for a pain that's gone away. Seven more drugs to counter the side effects of drug one. Recurring doctor visits for one kid's acne--so the doctor can see the results of his word. Scandinavians (all of Europe) pay less for medical care and are healthier and live longer.
    I'm in a health plan that converted, like the State employees plan, to "consumer driven." It's basically a catastrophic insurance and covers preventive care. You pay your own way for treatment of illnesses unless and until it exceeds your annual out-of-pocket limit. There are a few things with co-pays--like halfsies on most dental work. Don't know about my plan but the State system seems to have cut annual costs by tens of millions.
    Anyhow, the point is SS and Medicare can be fixed with some modest changes. If Congress would get something done to take SOME of the uncertainty out of the business-decision process.....
    Medicaid is not funded and has replaced and expanded on charity, church and non-profit assistance to indigent Americans. Medicaid is paying Billions for people who NEVER worked--the former welfare moms who've aged out of having more kids. The alcoholics who didn't hold a job to qualify for SS and can't get SSDI, disability. So why does Congress do absolutely nothing relevant?

  14. Republicans three trick ponies: 1) tax cuts 2) deregulation 3) globaloney

  15. The bottom line is people have a choice as to whether to work for or not to work for a union organization. If you don't like paying union dues don't work for a union shop.

    I belonged to a union for decades and felt I got very good representation for the few thousand dollars I gave them through the years.

    Fox news spends a great deal of time bashing unions. The commentators that are bashing the unions all belong to either Sag or Aftra. the workers that work on the shows also belonged to unions. They don't want you to belong to a union but they have no problem belonging to unions themselves. The height of hypocrisy.

  16. Teamster. There are not enough "rich people" to fund all the giveaways to those who refuse to work. I'm not talking about those who can't find work. If the middle class wasn't the next-best option to fund all the programs--as in we didn't have all the unneeded programs--the middle class would not be expected to pay for so much. Instead of COLA's, we'd be finding ways to trim the fat so workers could keep more of their income--cut taxes for the middle class by ending unearned refunds. Enable the feds to stop fraudulent refunds. And stop refundable credits--another name for welfare.

  17. Economics 201: Jobs go to places where business can operate best. Our corporate tax structure encourages jobs to move overseas. Every dime in taxes that a business pays is added to the price of the products--and when we add so much on, American goods don't well. American businesses go bust. Chinese businesses flourish.