Is it time to start dealing with the deficit? It sure looks like Mr Obama and his team think so. I'm not sure...
The deficit, this bugaboo the Republicans created half of, and definitely created the reason for most of the other half, stands at an eye-watering $16.28 trillion dollars. That's $16,280,000,000,000. That, in the popular parlance of the anti-deficit hawks, is about $46,000 per person. Which, clearly, is more per taxpayer, considering that less than half the nation actually pays taxes for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to "being a child", "being poor", "old", "a venture capitalist", "wealthy", etc. And it's about 116% of GDP.
So, obviously, something needs to be done. With, despite the best efforts of Congressional Republicans, the economy recovering it's probably time to start thinking about how to get all of this under control. (As a side note, you know what I wonder? "Are George's two wars fully accounted for in that deficit number?" I don't think they are, although I can't say why because the numbers for the wars aren't available. Mostly because they're not actually known. That should scare a deficit hawk or two, but apparently doesn't.) The argument in Washington isn't so much about ideology as it is about a simplistic and greedy against society. Voters overwhelming said that they wanted the deficit reduced, and that they wanted it done fairly - the Republicans read that as "on the backs of the Middle Class". President Obama disagrees, but this time it seems he's not being naive about the battle he's about to wage. Indeed, he's taking the battle to the Republicans and they're not ready.
I don't know how you force government spending down; people keep saying it should be more like business - and it should - but in far too many places where money is actually spent, Congress and State governments set up the rules. The rules are often well-intentioned, or respond to some purchasing scandal or other - but they're not helpful when you're trying to reduce the size of government or how much it pays for services, etc. What we have, as a result, is a situation where spending could be easily reduced if government acted like a business, which it's precluded from doing because of the rules.
And that tax code! There is, I kid you not, an exemption from some taxes for Wisconsin arrow makers. (I think there's one.) Paul Ryan introduced it into the tax code. The tax code is rife with such exemptions, favors and breaks - it's probably the main reason the tax code is so voluminous! To rework the tax code is not a simple job; do you think someone like Mr Ryan is going to eagerly reduce the tax break a Wisconsin employer gets? No other Congressperson will, either. They'll talk about the hard choices until the cows come home - but they'll act on them only if the other suggests it and they get to have secret vote on it.
But none of that will reduce the deficit - it'll be a good start, but that's all. But perhaps that's all that's needed? Some spending cuts, some tax hikes and some streamlining. Perfectly reasonable, right? Perhaps Congress can get around to taxing Flying Pigs? That's more likely that actually having them do their jobs on this. (Mind you, if a Democrat suggested that, I can see the Republicans coming out in support of Flying Pigs. And no Republican will suggest it because who wants to raise taxes against on Flying Pigs? Don't they pay enough taxes? Etc.)