WaPo's Robinson: Solve Deficit With Tax Hikes, Defense Cuts and Universal Healthcare

Eugene Robinson's column in Thursday's Washington Post should have been placed in that paper's funnies section rather than the opinion page.

His solution to our nation's deficit would be laughable if it wasn't so gosh darned scary:

Do progressives care about reducing the national debt? Of course they do, no matter what the White House might believe.

So innocently began Robinson's "A Little More Revenue Could Go A Long Way."

Unfortunately, readers are going to need a spoonful of sugar to help his medicine go down:

Start by allowing the Bush-era tax cuts for households making more than $250,000 a year to expire; this would cut deficits by about $700 billion over a decade. Add in the revenue that would be gained by closing the tax loopholes that Obama keeps talking about — eliminating some deductions for high earners, requiring hedge fund executives to pay taxes at the same rate as their chauffeurs, eliminating the tax break for corporate jets and so on — and soon you’re in the neighborhood of a trillion dollars.

The nominal corporate tax rate of 35 percent is a joke, since big corporations don’t actually pay that much; those loopholes, too, could be eliminated. Then we could look at measures that would have broader impact — say, hiking or eliminating the income cap for Social Security payroll contributions.

I hope you swallowed that sugar first, or that had to taste pretty darned sour.

Our nation is currently teetering on a double dip - Friday's awful numbers out of the Labor Department concerning the unemployment rate having risen to 9.2 percent in June following disappointing May numbers is extremely cautionary - and this former Post editor wants to not only raise taxes on the top one percent of wage earners, he also wants to lift the payroll tax ceiling which will impact folks making as little as $107,000.

Is that a good idea given the current economic environment? And what happens if we do raise the payroll tax limit? Do such contributors get more benefits for their additional contributions?

They'd better, or Social Security becomes a wealth redistribution program and not the retirement insurance plan the Supreme Court said was Constitutional in the '30s.

But Robinson wasn't done (readers are advised to take another spoonful of sugar right about now):

If we could trim the Pentagon’s spending by 15 percent — I know I’m dreaming, but humor me — we’d save another $1 trillion over 10 years. [...]

It’s impolitic to mention this fact, but other developed nations manage to produce better health outcomes for roughly half of what we’re paying. They do this through single-payer health systems, many of which deliver care via private health insurance companies.

Add it all up, and Robinson's deficit cure is raising income and payroll taxes, cutting defense spending, and creating a new healthcare entitlement program for every single citizen.

There's not enough sugar on the planet to get that medicine down the throats of most Americans.

Unemployment Taxes Stimulus Social Security Recession National Debt Medicare Budget Bailouts Economy Washington Post Eugene Robinson
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