If I was the president

The Thinker by Rodin

Gah! The amount of disinformation going on about the debt ceiling, the budget deficit and the economy continues to astound me. That so much of it is sticking goes to prove that money can buy pretty much anything. The oligarchy is clearly in charge, which is why closing loopholes for people who own private jets is viewed as anathema by the Republic Party. We’re talking freakin’ corporate jets, jets that cost tens of millions of dollars at least. Chances are if you or your corporation own one or more corporate jets, you are beyond rich. You are filthy rich and the last thing you need is yet another tax break aimed at your jet. It’s amazing Republicans aren’t laughed out of the room when they try to defend these and other outrageous tax breaks.

It’s probably a good thing I am not president right now because here is what I would say to Republicans: I dare you not to extend the debt ceiling. In fact, I double dare you. If you are anxious to end your party in one fell swoop, and make it as irrelevant as the Whigs, go right ahead. It’s not like we don’t already have a budget passed into law. You have already agreed how much we can spend through the end of the fiscal year but you won’t even pony up the money to pay for that? What does “law” mean to you? Is it a recommendation or something binding on the country? In any event, if we have another fiscal calamity because your party would not extend the debt ceiling just to cover the spending we already signed into law, your party will go straight over the cliff in 2012. It would be nice if the Senate could start first, but the constitution requires all spending bills originate in the House. The Senate could easily pass an extension of the debt ceiling under budget reconciliation rules. So go right ahead, Republican Party. Die by putting principle before pragmatism. The price may be horrendous to our livelihoods and economy, but at least the cancer of your party will be gone and saner heads can rule again.

Furthermore, I would not sign any omnibus spending bill into law until every current lawmaker who voted for the Medicare Part D legislation, the Bush tax cuts and two wars on borrowed money first said they were sorry and that they regretted their decision in writing. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot cause the problem in the first place and then refuse to raise taxes to address the problem you created. It’s one thing to say “I’m sorry”, it’s another to follow through with an act of contrition. I am interested in deeds, not words. Now is the time to pay for your mistakes not by just admitting they were wrong but helping us get out of them. You have to undo your mistakes. You must swallow hard and let the Bush tax cuts expire. You must agree to sizeable defense cuts because there is no way to be fiscally solvent otherwise.

And Democrats, you are not scot-free either. Medicare and Medicaid are a mess. They are definitely more efficient than private health insurance, but they cost way too much and Medicare in particular is riddled with incentives to cheat. It needs fundamental changes, not vouchers. It can be fixed by adopting proven best practices in other similar health care systems across the globe. Get to work.

And America, you don’t get off scot-free either. You are a mess and you need to shape up. Seniors, since you are on Medicare, you need to get annual physicals and follow your primary care physician’s guidance because in general you weigh too much, eat the wrong crap and don’t exercise, and this is costing the nation a fortune in outpatient and hospital care. If you miss the benchmarks in your physician’s action plan, you must pay a premium because it is people like you, being either stupid, or oblivious, who are driving up costs. You’re old enough to know that life is not free. If you want health care in retirement, you must do your part to restrain costs.

Doctors, you don’t get exempted either. You have to practice better medicine and work more efficiently. You have to stop billing for all these unnecessary tests and submit bills only when you have achieved an effective outcome. Yes, I know many of you are still paying off your loans from medical school. Deal with it. You have plenty of company.

Here’s some of our new rules of governing:

  • Unless you are severely disabled or destitute, you must contribute part of your income to the betterment of society. That means you must pay some percentage of your income in taxes.
  • Every single program in the federal government must meet goals written into its legislation and terminate after five years if they have not achieved those goals. We will empower the Government Accountability Office to find out whether the goals were met for the agreed upon budget. If it’s not working as planned and for the agreed upon cost, it’s gone. No more open-ended legislation is allowed. There must be a funding mechanism attached to all new spending, and it must be certified as reasonable by the Congressional Budget Office before it can be accepted as legislation.
  • We will borrow money to pay for war only, but we will also make it part of the Department of Defense’s mission to avoid wars in the first place. The agency will work intimately with the Department of State to ensure we avoid as many wars as possible. Wars are costly. Our military plans must include plans to limit the scope of a war as tightly as possible, and withdraw our forces as fast as possible.
  • Once we achieve a balanced budget, at least five percent of revenues annually will be dedicated to paying down our budget deficit.
  • We will not be afraid to raise taxes when needed. We need to repair the bridges and highways we got that are crumbling. Transportation taxes must be raised. Coincidentally, we will stimulate the economy and the middle class in a major way. This probably means increasing the federal tax on gas to at least fifty cents a gallon. Yes, it will hurt in the short term but it’s money that will be spent right here in America and will encourage more fuel efficient transportation.
  • No more partisan nonsense is allowed. Taxes are not evil. They are the cost of civilization. People who can afford to pay more should, because their wealth is due largely to those lower than them on the income scale.

I believe that this is what we need to make our country great again. President Obama, I hope you are listening.

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