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by Mary Kate Cary
No elected official wants to touch the federal budget deficit
In January, the
It should come as no surprise that politicians spend even as families have to cut their budgets. That's because to an elected official, the biggest "toxic asset" on the books these days is the federal budget deficit. No one wants to touch it. For years, both parties engaged in pandering, finger-pointing, and overheated rhetoric on the subject of taxes, spending, and the national debt. No wonder the number of independents is growing and that they list reducing the deficit as their top concern. They're tuning out the parties and looking for answers themselves.
Those citizens are finding that government spending is out of control. But they're not finding a consensus on what to do about it. For example, that
Put another way, if I only asked you if you think we should cut
Or what if I said: Maybe we should keep the
According to former Comptroller General David M. Walker, there are similar things that can be done with
Many entitlement programs were started under President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a way to help those down on their luck. That safety net should remain. But even the programs' staunchest defenders now understand what the rest of us saw a while ago. Many programs have become entrenched, a necessity to which everyone is entitled, no matter what income level or age. Lately those supporters are changing their minds.
It's not just seniors whose opinions are shifting. It's widespread. You can see it in the anti-incumbent poll numbers, in the diverse crowds the Tea Parties attract, and in the people who are researching government spending online. True, they don't yet have a consensus on specific answers, but they're way ahead of the political establishment regarding the problem.
The fiscal crisis is destroying people's trust in government and fueling political alienation because it's exposing such a disconnect between voters and elected officials. The sooner Washington figures that out -- the sooner free-spending politicians get it -- the better for our economy, our national security, and our democracy.
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