The opinions stated in this article are solely those of the author and not of The Davis Clipper.
By all measures, Americans are increasingly more polarized about government and politics. A national report from Ohio this weekend gave two examples: In Cincinnati, a coffee shop owner said her eatery was the only one in the city in which people could support Pres. Obama, whereas in Columbus, a motorists with Romney/Ryan stickers were complaining about their cars being vandalized.
We hear it in the nastiness on talk radio (a recent KTKK announcer made fun of Michelle Obama’s shape) and in daily conversation (a customer told me recently he couldn’t wait to see an Obama win “wiping the smiles off those Mormon Republican faces!”)
Yet I found hope last week in the words of one of my best customers. Robert and I were discussing the challenges of our national debt. We were both on the same page regarding the problem. According to one report, federal debt as a percentage of our gross national product is worse in the U.S. than in any country in Europe except Greece, and we need at least $5 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years Р an amount economists claim neither presidential candidate can deliver.
Robert had a solution, but not one I expected. He is a devout Republican, a conservative who hates taxes more than smog, potholes, and rabid dogs. He firmly believes that the rich should receive tax breaks, seemingly to create jobs. He sympathizes with the poor, but mutters that laziness is mainly to blame.
So I wasn’t expecting his solution to the federal debt:
“I don’t believe the Democrats or Republicans will ever be able to decrease spending enough to solve the problem,” he said. “None of us want to slash military spending and see Hill Air Force close, yet defense spending accounts for about half of our federal spending. Cutting National Public Radio or foreign aid is a drop in the bucket, and won’t solve anything, but Americans are opposed to the big cuts in Social Security and Medicare,” he said.
“What we need to do is institute a national sales tax of 1 percent,” he suggested. “I don’t know about anybody who would suffer from paying 10 cents more on a $10 dinner or 50 cents more on a $50 pair of Levi jeans.
“The key would be that all this money Р 100 percent, with no exception Р would go toward reducing the national debt,” he said.
“Everybody would pay, because everybody is responsible for it,” he continued. “On the other hand, the rich would pay more (Democrats will like that!) because they spend more. The 1 percent would add up. If I bought a new Lexus, I would pay an additional $500 toward extinguishing the deficit. That’s a large amount of additional tax, but realistically $500 is not going to alter my decision to buy a Lexus if I want one. Republicans should support it because it holds everyone accountable for their decisions.”
“Increasing the tax rates on the wealthy penalizes risk and investment and hard work,” he said. “But instituting a national sales tax is fair to everyone and it’s needed.”
In one of the Sunday news magazines, former U.S. Comptroller General David M. Walker said:
“People are smarter than many politicians think. They will accept tough choices as long as those choices are part of a plan they deem fair.”
My friend Robert would agree.