Homer Simpson and Cutting the Deficit

It’s a shame that Homer Simpson isn’t heading Prez O’s deficit-reduction commission instead of Alan Simpson. At least Homer has some credibility.

I’ll admit that reducing the federal deficit is no laughing matter. Yet the coming debate over the commission’s recommendations will certainly result in some serious yucks as the politicians and professional policy wonks take to the national stage. Homer Simpson — come on down!

OK. For those of you still focused on Brett Favre’s text messages — or not — the deficit-reduction commission yesterday, after months of study, released its report. And virtually every sacred cow in American life and politics is being corralled, earmarked for slaughter: Social Security, Medicare, deductions for home mortgage interest, cuts in defense and domestic spending and so on. Good luck with that.

But it’s an important national issue — and worthy of informed discussion among all of us. IMO we are in the early stages of a debate that will eventually shape the future direction of the country. Hey, in France people are rioting in the streets over moves to increase the retirement age to 62 from 60. And eventually our willingness — or not — to do something about government spending across the board will touch all of us today and the lives of our children and grandchildren in the future.

So here’s my initial take on all of this.

  • The fact that the commission had to wait until after the elections to release its report once again demonstrates the timidity — and intellectual corruptness — of politicians, in and out of elected office. I know. The recommendations have already caused a shit storm. And nobody running for office wants to answer direct questions on anything related to the sacred cows.
  • Everyone of us will react to the recommends in the most self-serving way possible. I’m 63 and I have a fixed pension. Still, I’m concerned about cuts in Social Security and Medicare. Saying that, I’m convinced that this country is heading down the toilet unless we get deficit spending — and government spending in general — under control. And I want my son and daughter — and my young friends, many of whom are former students who are just starting their career and families — to enjoy the same opportunities I had. If that means some cuts in senior programs, then so be it — as long as they are thoughtful, fair and part of an overall plan.

But more importantly, here are some questions that you — especially if you haven’t reached Ohio Buckeye Card status yet — should be asking as this debate unfolds.

  • Are federal, state and local government employees — including teachers — in the same boat as most of the American public when it comes to Social Security,  pensions in retirement and medical insurance and coverage? If not, why not?
  • How is our economy — small businesses for the most part — going to create enough well-paying jobs to support a generation of workers (and voters) who are going to have to save more for homes, education and retirement and possibly to provide care for their parents. And if the “new normal” as the policy wonks like to opine requires two incomes in a family to live these days what does that mean for issues such as education, child care and so on? And what about the families where there aren’t two wage earners for any number of reasons? Or about single individuals?
  • Should the same politicians — are you listening Alan Simpson? — who over the course of many years got us into this mess be rewarded at the ballot box with reelection? Appears that a few weeks ago many voters said no. Maybe that will continue — and the message won’t be lost on our elected leaders: Get your act together and do something in the best interest of the nation.

If not, hey, there is always Homer Simpson.

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