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‘Fiscal cliff’ distracts from real tough choices ahead

As Congress and the White House continue to bicker over how to avoid the “fiscal cliff” and fill the nation’s massive budget gap, they fail to address the larger, long-term problems facing our nation. Instead of taking the opportunity to spark meaningful reform, both sides are gridlocked over the most politically expedient method for beating the December 31 deadline.

The Progressive rallying cry to make the rich pay “their fair share,” might make for a good sound bite, but when we look at the numbers, it’s quite clear just how uninformed many politicians are on the issue. Accounting for federal income taxes and tax credits, the richest 5 percent of Americans paid almost 30 percent of taxes in 2009. In fact, the wealthy have always paid a large percent of the overall tax burden. What’s surprising however is that the government’s total tax receipts are about the same in relation to the overall economy, regardless of tax rates.

Raising taxes on the those making over $250,000 would solve about 5 percent of the long-term budgetary mess we face, yet it has consumed 95 percent of the debate. The long-term liabilities of Medicare and Social Security, paired with unsustainable defense spending, are spiraling out of control, and instead of finding a way to curb and reduce entitlements, Congress and the White House are caught up in a political game of chicken.

Military spending has increased over 90 percent since 1998 as America drastically expanded its defense of other countries. The U.S. now accounts for 48 percent of the world’s military spending, expending resources to aid countries that are more than capable of defending themselves. Over the next 10 years, the Military should be able to shave close to a trillion dollars by spending less to defend these countries. This would lead to less of a burden on U.S. taxpayers, and ultimately more security for all as other nations invest in their own defense.

Read more at The Hill.


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