Fixing the deficit

I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to economic matters.  And on one particular item that’s in the news lately, I have my own plan for fixing the deficit.  The Washington Post is asking folks for their deficit plan, so I’ve decided to write it up and send it in.  But you get it first!

Note: if you’re not interested in ugly economic stuff, just move along now.

So here it is, the Dzikiewicz plan for wiping out the debt.

Let’s start with an observation: I really don’t think this is as hard as people seem to think.  After all, we had a surplus as recently as 11 years ago.  We can get back to that with a few simple steps.

First step: diagnosis.  How did we get from surplus to debt?  Looking at the numbers, the following things are new since 2000:

1. The economy tanked.
2. The Bush tax cuts.
3. The unfunded Bush initiatives, primarily the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also the Medicare drug benefit.

In addition, there’s one continuing problem that drags on our economy and budgets, and that’s:

4. Medical inflation.

So our plan needs to fix these four items.  We can do that by taking the following steps:

1. To fix the economy, we need a big stimulus.  Yes, this will result in worse deficits in the short term.  But it will improve the economy and thus reduce deficits in the long term.  And as an extra side-benefit, it will put people back to work.

Ideally this stimulus will work to improve the national infrastructure, which needs a lot of work.  But for economic purposes, that’s not necessary as long as the money gets spent on things being made in America.  After all, the most effective economic stimulus in American history was WWII when the government borrowed a lot of money and used it to buy a lot of stuff and blow it up.  If we can’t get any other kind of stimulus in place, let’s have a trillion-dollar fireworks display (American-made fireworks only) – that will get the economy going.

2. Let the Bush tax cuts run out.  Simple, really.  We don’t even have to do anything to make this happen – just refrain from extending them.

3. Quit with the stupid unfunded wars already!  We could do this with discipline, but we probably will need some institutional reforms to make it stick.  After all, there’s nothing that politicians and Americans like more than cheap short wars, though they usually fail to realize that cheap short wars have a nasty habit of turning into expensive long wars.  How about a constitutional amendment requiring a super-majority of Congress to approve military action?  Or some other thing – that’s a longer discussion than I want to have right here.

4. Countries with single-payer national health plans have considerably less medical inflation than do we.  Medicare, a single-payer national health plan, has seen less medical inflation over the past 40 years than private sector health plans.  That leads to a simple solution: a single-payer national health plan covering everyone.

Do these things, and avoid doing anything stupid, and you can fix the deficit.  It’s not really that hard.



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