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Letter: Debt-ceiling geography

I expect the Tea Party Republicans in Congress to force a partial shutdown of the U.S. government by failing to address the debt ceiling debate as adults. I also expect President Obama to retreat from some core Democratic principles in order to prevent the shutdown.

Mr. President, the Republicans’ refusing to let you pay their bills will hand you unprecedented powers in your capacity as chief executive. You will have to juggle funds, trying to reconcile the gap between what Congress appropriated and what they actually allow to be spent. Part of that discretionary power contains certain geographical elements, and I suggest you use it to maximum advantage.

At 12:01 a.m. on the day the debt ceiling is reached, you must announce – as a necessary expenditure reduction – the gradual elimination of federal presence from states whose congressional delegations declined to raise the debt ceiling. You might consider closing customs stations along the Gulf and Southern Atlantic coasts and at selected airports. You could cut back FAA manpower, forcing dramatic reductions in airport traffic. One wonders what spring break looks like with virtually no passengers coming through Florida airports. Would squeals of outrage follow the Pentagon’s announcement of Fort Benning’s gradual phaseout in favor of bases in more friendly states? Ditto Parris Island?

The Republicans will demand a price for their votes to raise the debt ceiling. Let the price be pain. If the extremists who control the Republican party really want to go bare knuckle, let their states take the first left jab to the nose and see how it feels.



Legacy Comments2

Great letter William. The conservatives don't want big government as they feel they are victimized for more taxes. They need to be shown where their tax money goes and the security/services it provides. Government is not in business to make money or to save money if it doesn't benefit you personally. It is in business to take care of the people, not the wealthy corporations who have way too much corporate welfare with the huge tax breaks that the corporations have enjoyed for way too long...

The runaway debt train left the station in 1982 under President Reagan. Prior to Reagan, the total US debt was $930B and 35% of GDP (now over 100% of GDP). The 50 year average top bracket rate from 1932 to 1981 was 79%. Reagan's top bracket cut from 69.125% to 28% was unaffordable (along with his huge defense spending increases), as reflected in his 189% debt rise. Since Reagan left office, the 30 year average top bracket rate has averaged 38%. We have borrowed $trillions over the last 30 years to make up for the revenue lost to the Reagan (and Bush) tax cuts, coincidentally an amount roughly equivalent to what the Treasury has borrowed from our Social Security and other trust funds over the same period. Every time we borrow we have to pay interest until it is paid back. Anyone with a 30 year mortgage knows that the interest costs way more than the principal. If we couldn't afford the tax cuts, we certainly couldn't afford the interest expense on the tax cut borrowing, so we have borrowed $trillions more to pay the interest expense, which has amounted to $10 trillion over the last 30 years. Interest expense prior to Reagan was $75B/yr and now it is $400B/yr, which alone equates to 1/3 of our deficit. The current 39.6% top bracket rate is half what it should be, and the runaway debt train will proceed up the tracks and over the fiscal cliff unless we stop the Republicans from coddling the rich.

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