LETTER: Leaders, please do what is right for our country

Jan. 01, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

To the Editor:

I don't believe the average American realizes what a financial mess our country is in. A letter in The Herald by Arlene Jackson a few weeks ago points out the seriousness of the matter.

In that article, Ms. Jackson suggests that every American pay an additional $2 to $4 a month to pay off our debt. She then asked how many months it would take to pay off our debt at this rate. To answer that, there has to be a few assumptions made. One, there might be 300 million people in the U.S., but fewer than half that number (around 140 million) actually file returns, with half of that number of filers not paying any taxes.

So let's assume that the $2 to $4 assessment is levied on the entire population of 300 million and not just filers. The second assumption is that going forward, we have a balanced budget. The last assumption is the $900 million a month collected in Ms. Jackson's proposal is used solely to pay down our $16 trillion debt. So with these assumptions included, it would take 17,778 months, or 1,481 years, to pay off our current debt! Imagine "Paid In Full" 3493 A.D.! And we didn't even begin the discussion on the $80 trillion-plus unfunded liabilities that make up Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

We're concerned that going over the fiscal cliff will cause a recession, which it may or may not. But the proposed automatic tax increases and sequestration that's due to take effect Jan. 1, 2013, do not even begin to make a dent in our fiscal crisis. If we enter into recession because of these rather small adjustments, what's going to happen when we really get serious about our financial mess and the great pain it will cause?

A stalemate exists because Republicans refuse to raise taxes while Democrats refuse to cut spending. Whether we like it or not, we have to simultaneously raise taxes and reduce spending significantly in order to get financially healthy again. I urge congressmen and senators from both parties, along with the president, to start doing what is right for our country instead of doing what they think people want to hear just to get re-elected.

George Orlovsky