Maybe part of the reason our pols get away with so much is that they think the population can't do math. I watched Bill Maher's show, and I got the typical line about how the rich aren't paying their fair share.
"The richest and greediest 2% of Americans are demanding an extension of George Bush's tax cuts for themselves, which would add over $700 billion to our national debt over ten years."
That amounts to $70 billion a year or less than 2% of the entire budget. IOW, this "tax cut for the rich" is trivial in budgetary terms.
From ZH today, "We have Congress debating over $30+ billion in spending at a time when the Federal Reserve is printing $100 billion per month or so to buy US debt."
I wish people would see then that "the rich" are just being used as a scape goat, and we saw the same with GE. They made $14 billion last year and paid no taxes. Even if they did, they would have paid around $5 billion. Again, this is trivia compared to what the fed is doing.
Anyone who doesn't see that the real issue (and the one that no one wants to talk about) is excessive federal wages is kidding himself.
Why are some of the nation's wealthiest neighborhoods suburbs of DC?
This was supposed to be what the tea party was for not some fight over Planned Parenthood.
When I looked into Medicare a few years ago, I was shocked. Medicare was spending $1 for every 59 cents it brought in which is kind of like the whole budget today.
What needed to be done? The pain needed to be shared. The first and most obvious were the "death panels" that Sarah Palin stupidly was against. Hospitalizing severe dementia patients is as dumb as it gets. 21% of the total Medicare budget is spent on the terminally ill. That number should go down to 5%. That takes care of 16% of the budget shortfall and leaves 25%.
The payors and providers then should split the difference. Health care providers take a 12.5% cut and taxpayers and the elderly pay the remaining 12.5%. Voila, budget problem solved, and everybody is involved in the sacrifice.
To stave off problems in the future, the age that someone qualifies for Medicare should be bumped to 70.
So what has been done? Absolutely nothing, and Medicare collecting 59 cents for every dollar was when I looked into things five years ago. I am sure it is worse now.
So there is no significant difference between the Dems and Republicans. "The budget showdown" was over 1% of the budget. "The tax cuts for the rich" were about 2%. That means the Republicans and Dems are 97% the same.
Not one pol has talked about cutting services, cutting provider reimbursement, raising Medicare taxes, or raising the qualifying age of Medicare to save Medicare over the last five years. Not one. And that is just Medicare. The same is true for social security, Medicaid, and defense. The pols are all closing their eyes and wishing things get better.
I was thinking yesterday as you pointed out the fact that $30B dollars only amounted to such a small piece of the total budget pie. Darn I thought, when $30B is chump change...that's big bucks. It seems to me the US Federal budget is has just got way outta control. We gotta bring things back down to planet earth... to a manageable level or were done... no ? That led me back to previous thought of mine that reminded me that DC was just about the only city in the country that did not experience losses in housing prices in the last five years. What does that tell us ? It tells me that government is growing and prospering faster than the private sector. If not growing, at least not properly reflecting the changes in private sector. It also tells me that we are likely paying to much for our "civil servants".
I've always been curious to know what Ross Perot would have accomplished as a president... being a business man. He was one of the few men that did not run on the R or D ticket that actually had a shot at winning the presidential election. He might of actually changed the coarse of US politics.
Doc, that post should be required reading. Although I'm fairly convinced that most Americans are so deeply in denial about what it'll take to fix our budget problems, I'm not sure why I think facts would actually enter in to it. Everybody seems to be hoping they won't have to give up a thing, that some rich people somewhere can be taxed and it'll all be OK.
Mary Meeker has produced what's pretty nearly a book-length analysis of the US as if it were a corporation. Linked here: http://www.kpcb.com/usainc/
It takes a while to read, but it's well done. Your brief post goes right to the heart of where it says the trouble is. Our medical entitlements pour staggering sums into the last weeks of elderly peoples lives. If memory serves, something like a third of all medical spending is crowded into that last, desperate attempt to stave off the inevitable. Even if we had the money (and we don't) that seems like a bad allocation of resources.