Realistic Options for Obama's Budget

Wednesday, 03 Feb 2010 04:54 PM

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The president has just submitted to Congress his proposed 2011 budget of $3.8 trillion. Many on both sides of the political spectrum have complained that the president’s budget inadequately addresses our $1.3 trillion budget deficit. We have heard the president state repeatedly that he will deal with that deficit during fiscal year 2012.

However, the president’s long-term deficit reduction plan would lower the deficit over ten years by only $250 billion and leave the mandated parts of the budget, e.g., Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, untouched.

This is unacceptable. Non-discretionary spending is where the money is and, as Willie Sutton said, that is why he robbed banks.

The president has to go where the money is, but even before that, he can raise trillions by implementing the following principles:

1. Allowing Medicare to take volume discounts on prescription drugs of at least 30 percent (prescription drug companies provide discounts in Canada of up to 50 percent); if that were done over a 10 year period, the U.S. (Medicare) would save over a trillion dollars.

2. Proposing a national stock transfer tax which would raise billions. When New York City levied such a tax, it raised millions until the tax was discontinued when the stock exchanges threatened to leave the city. An American who leaves the U.S. cannot evade the long arm of the Internal Revenue Service.

3. Creating a national lottery or sweepstakes to raise billions.

4. Taxing charitable trust funds. Why shouldn’t the giant charities like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which raised monies placing them in tax-exempt trust funds and now dispense them as almost a rival government be subject to a tax? The Gates’ recently allocated $10 billion over the next 10 years for educational grants. They are spending billions of tax-free dollars that, if taxed, would be available to reduce the budget deficit.

5. Putting into effect immediately the president’s touted $500 billion in Medicare savings over ten years provided for under his recently derailed health plan. Why doesn’t the president propose Medicaid and Social Security changes that would provide the U.S. Treasury with additional billions in savings and prevent the expected bankruptcy of Social Security in a few years?

6. Putting into effect tort savings of $54 billion, so certified by the Congressional Budget Office.

Mr. President, there is a lot more you can do to cut our deficit and secure our fiscal future. The time to act is now.



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