FOR CRYING OUT LOUD
The fiscal cliff is the hot topic post-election and the
economic reality (as opposed to political myth) is that the government needs to
increase revenue and cut costs to cope with the demographic bulge created by
aging baby boomers. And they need to do it fast. Truth is all aspects of the federal
budget are manageable with the exception of this perfect storm of prolonged
economic malaise (thus lowering tax revenue) and exploding elderly population
which are costly to care for and are paid for (in most instances) via
government programs (Medicare & Medicaid). We are only able to do it now
because we borrow heavily abroad and, as even a child knows, our national debt
is rising exponentially. And it's going to get worse, much worse, very soon.
We can't afford to raise tax rates for high income earners and/or the wealthy
as that will destroy their incentive to work and produce, take risk and invest,
hire and contract. We can't afford to cut programs designed for the
aged and the poor. These are our most vulnerable and we must not abandon our
What we can do is reform the tax code to flatten the tax rate structure and
eliminate needless tax loopholes. The Republicans will support this as, if done
right, we will be able to increase tax revenue without raising tax rates.
Meanwhile we need to engage in aggressive entitlement reform. If done in a
thoughtful way, this can be done without cutting benefits to seniors or
punishing healthcare providers. I am talking about payment reform, care
coordination, EHR, ACO's, Medical Homes and all the other gizmos that promise
to bend the cost curve. The Democrats will support this as, if done right, we
will be able to slow the growth of the Medicare and Medicaid programs without
cutting benefits to seniors.
Let's hope our leaders have the good sense to put a visionary, bi-partisan plan
together so we can all look forward to a brighter and more prosperous 2013.