Dear Denny: Don’t keep taxes low on my account

Dear Denny Rehberg (or Steve Daines, if this clusterbudget outlasts Denny’s term in office): I know neither you nor Barack Obama want to see my taxes go up – I don’t make enough for my taxes to do more than pay the interest on the money we’re not getting from Mitt Romney, but I want you to know I’m more than happy to bite the bullet. Supposedly, you represent me when you demand to keep taxes at a minimum, but I think I can handle it. At least, I can handle it better than people who rely on the Federal government can handle their funds being slashed, better than our highways can handle losing funding.

And to Max and Jon: I can certainly handle it better than food stamp recipients can handle cuts to their benefits, or the unemployed can handle cuts to theirs. So if it comes down to raising my taxes or cutting those programs, please don’t cut those programs on my account.

And you know, I think I’m not alone. It might take a little belt tightening, but I bet we can handle bringing our tax records back to the bad old days before 2000. You know, when we had a budget surplus and a growing economy? (A similar argument could be made that we’ll still be safe and powerful with the levels of defense spending that kept us safe powerful in 2000, but perhaps that’s a conversation for a different day.)



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    • Great, Ingy. If only congress were just to two of us, we’d have this figured out. Obviously we wouldn’t use nominal figures, though – that would be nonsensical. Take every Clinton department and give them the same percentage of the GDP they had under Clinton (excluding, of course, interest payments, because we don’t have much of a choice on that). Then raise taxes to Clinton levels. Bam! The deficit is replaced with an enormous surplus. Of course, we’ve also dragged the world back into a recession, in all likelihood, but we balanced the budget.

      Unfortunately, Ingy, I don’t think our plan is going to work out. For one, most of those cuts would come to entitlement spending, so the amounts are very difficult to control, and frankly slashing Social security is not politically wise. But if the GOP comes by and says look, we’ll go back to Clinton levels of discretionary spending on a department budget per percent GDP basis, in exchange for resuming Clinton levels of taxation, I say that’s a mighty fair trade. However, I highly doubt the GOP is about to endorse a 36% cut in defense spending – after all, the DoD had the highest increase in funding between 1999 and 2012, so if you’re looking for who busted the budget…

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