Love Some of It, Hate Some of It: But a Good Start.
I’m pleasantly surprised at the first draft of the presidential panel to cut the deficit—because it’s not all raising taxes and penalizing business which I would expect from an Obama-named panel—but it slashes liberal goodies as well…enough to draw fire from Speaker Pelosi and Jan Schakowky. Still, it has enough bad stuff to cause me to hold my nose as if to ingest a tablespoon of castor oil—without sugar to make the medicine go down. But thank God it’s not pablum or cotton candy and generalities but is a spectacularly honest first cut.
The plan has real bite. It’s identified nearly $4 trillion in total savings through 2020, bringing down the annual U. S. budget deficit to 2.2% of economic output by 2015 compared to 8.9% as of last September 30.
Because I’m wholeheartedly in favor of some of it which satisfies my conservative heart…and—I wince at others…it shows me the proposal is fair and even-handed. Basically I think that if it were implemented we would be well on the way to summoning up the courage to handle the deficit for ourselves, kids and grandchildren.
The stuff I don’t like: placing limits on tax breaks for homeowners through removing deductions on interest for second homes, home equity loans and mortgages higher than $500,000…cutting Pentagon spending by $100 billion by 2015…higher taxes on gasoline beginning with a 15 cent per gallon hike in 2015 and escalating sharply after that…removing a number of corporate tax deductions available today. And on health care, a whole bunch including the much debated idea that didn’t make it into ObamaCare: the public option and a strict cap on employer-provided health care that are tax deductible.
What I like: $100 billion in non-defense discretionary cuts by 2015…lowering the corporate tax rate…making permanent the research and development tax credit…cuts of $3 billion a year in federal subsidies to agribusiness with the cuts continuing until they are ended…gradually increasing the retirement age on Social Security to where beneficiaries begin at age 68 (about 2050) and proceeding to 69 (by the year 2075)…freezing federal employees’ pay for three years…cutting the federal work force by 10%...ending congressional earmarks.
On health care, endorsement of tort reform which didn’t make it into ObamaCare….as well as the provision that seniors pay more toward their health care in the form of expanded cost sharing—requiring seniors to fulfill a universal deductible instead for the current system of various co-pays for services…speeding up cuts in Medicare Advantage. Another cheering aspect is Congressman Paul Ryan’s admiration….not endorsement…of this first cut.
A Salute to Bill Brady’s Valiant Campaign.
Ah, I see Jim Edgar has just criticized Bill Brady for losing the governorship because he is too conservative for Illinois. I’m sure that the act of standing up for a belief that hasn’t tested as supported 10 to 1 in the polls is unthinkable for Vanilla Jim whose successful public career has been marked with caution, dexterity, flexibility all delivered with a mewing voice bearing clichés that don’t offend anyone. True, they don’t cause anybody to think, either, but that’s been Vanilla Jim’s trademark.
In all he’s been a nice appearing, slim chap with a southern accent who never rocked any boat or never failed to get along with any of his superiors—be they the bellowing, cigar-chomping, hard-drinking conservative Lion of the State Senate, mega-millionaire W. Russell Arrington…or the expansive, liberal governor now power lobbyist Jim Thompson whose tastes rivaled Suleiman the Magnificent, who built a psychedelic monstrosity bearing his name…impossible to heat in the winter and cool in the summer, a legendary collector of modern art who never promised tax increases—in fact assured there would be none—but who twice after electoral victories said oh, er, I just decided, guess what? We need a tax hike.
Vanilla Jim got along with those two and many more besides. His secret was that he never assented, never dissented, never caused waves….meaning that he sits still while others do the advocacy. When one opponent Dawn Clark Netsch ran against him she came out with a colorful TV commercial showing her shooting 8-ball pool while Vanilla Jim’s were just blah.
Emboldened by her success, she came forth with a tax swap idea. Vanilla Jim attacked it. After he beat her, his administration toyed with her idea and came very near embracing it—and, in fact, Vanilla Jim’s lieutenant governor came out for it. Vanilla Jim stayed mum. In the next election the lieutenant governor got walloped because he was identified with it. Vanilla Jim stayed mum. Not that Vanilla Jim should have endorsed it, mind you—but his success has always been that he takes no risks with ideas or stands. Nosirree.
The idea that anyone should embrace an idea or proposition that is popular with some but unpopular with others has always been shunned by Vanilla Jim. After all, he’s gotten places never taking a stand beyond the latest cliché. But those of us who know that politics demands bravery will thank him for courageously standing in defense of unborn life. You’d never catch Vanilla Jim doing that or suggesting any ideas or programs that may be controversial.
Which may lead some to suggest a monument be erected to Vanilla Jim. It should be a bust made of plastic and mounted on a weathervane. That way his image will turn first left and right as he always has in life—reflecting the cross-currents of the slightest breezes. And the bust should be inscribed with one of his quotes. You know—quotes that may be mundane, forgettable, clichés—but never offend.
Like…oh let me think…”When folks are out of work, unemployment results.”