How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

Mission Possible: How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

Selling Shared sacrifice is the key to President Obama’s Reelection

The Trenton Times Newspaper, January 21, 2012
By Irwin Stoolmacher

The United States is in very big trouble! All of the Republican candidates for the Presidency have rejected a long-term deficit reduction package that contained $10 in spending cuts for every $1 in revenue increases. According to Bill Clinton they have repudiated compromise to placate “antitax absolutist like Grover Norquist.”

The Republican approach mirrors that of the Greek people who, up until it was almost too late, were unwilling to accept the reality that you can’t retire at age fifty-two with a sizeable pension and not pay taxes. Republican need to come to their collective sense and recognize that we can’t simply budget cut ourselves out of the mess we have gotten ourselves in. There needs to be a combination of budget cuts and tax increases as suggested by President Obama’s federal debt commission.

The Commission did a very good job. They developed a plan that was creative, controversial and credible, in the sense that it worked from a mathematical perspective. However, the medicine they prescribed was nasty tasting ($4 trillion worth of deficit reductions) between 2012 and 2020). Neither pro-spending liberals nor anti-tax conservatives have been willing to make concession in order to arrive at a compromise that is good of the country.

As a strong supporter of Barack Obama’s election, I was extremely disappointed that he failed to call for the adoption of many of the Commission’s recommendations. Like the Democrats in New Jersey who tried to be too cute, and did not extend the millionaires tax when could have because they want to make the deficit Governor Christie’s problem; President Obama didn’t take the lead in calling for program cuts and tax increases even though he knew it was the right cocktail of meds.

Liberals and conservatives need to re-think their positions, as many of them did, when we were a facing the real possibility of a full-blown depression, three years ago. At that time many congressional liberals, who protested for years about the evils of deregulation, voted to bail the very banks whose greed caused the nation’s economic meltdown. Likewise, various fiscally conservative congressional Democrats voted to support the President’s stimulus package in spite of their real concerns about the nation’s growing deficit. Compromise was right then and it is right now – no matter what kind of threat’s Grover Norquist makes to defeat Republicans who support any tax increases.

The following are some dramatic cuts that the Commission recommended that this dye-in-the-wool liberal would be willing to swallow in order to stabilize the national debt by 2014 and reduce it to about half of today’s level by 2037.

  • End government funding of National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting Service, begin to charge fees to visitors to the Smithsonian Institute museums in Washington and raise fees at national parks.
  • Increase the social security retirement age by a month a year every two years so it reaches 68 in about 2050 and 69 in about 2075. Likewise increase the early retirement age to 64 by about 2075. A hardship exemption would be provided for those who cannot work beyond 62.
  • “Increase progressivity of benefit formula” for Social Security recipients (except for Cost of Living Adjustments). Return the taxable maximum to cover 90% of wages by 2050.
  • Slow the rate of foreign aid to save $4.6 billion a year.
  • Gradually increase gas tax by $0.15 beginning in 2013.

James Carville got it right when he said, “It’s the economy stupid.” It is going to be extremely hard for President Obama to get reelected if unemployment is still hovering around 9%. This is in spite of the fact that the Republicans have presented no deficit cutting plan and in fact have suggested the same economic policies that got us in this mess in the first place -- unfetter the economic engine of capitalism by reducing regulation and stimulating capital investment by providing tax breaks to multi-millionaires.

President Obama should throw caution to the wind and support a deficit reduction plan that includes a combination of painful budget cuts and equitable tax increases for those in the upper brackets who are doing well.

The New Yorker Magazine recently report on lecture given by two professors on a book they wrote entitled The Ten Golden Rules: Ancient Wisdom from the Greek Philosophers on Living the Good Life One of the authors, M.A. Soupios, at the lecture was quoted as saying “There’s a wonderful word, a Greek word, and Plato used it a lot and so does Aristotle: pleonexia ..... It’s wanting more than your fair share. It’s a lack of restrain, folks. It’s the disproportion. That’s how you rack up a fifteen-trillion-dollar national debt like we have in this country and all the debt in the other countries as well.”

President Obama needs to make the case that now is the time for each of us to give our fair share for the greater good. The first step is for him to sell a deficit reduction plan that contains budget cuts and tax increases – an equitable plan that embraces the notion of shared sacrifice and that attempts to balance the burden among all Americans.