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The importance of the deficit

December 4, 2010 - Mike Maneval
Two issues tower over others on America's domestic agenda - the jobless rate, which the Associated Press reported Friday rose to 9.8 percent last month, and the spending deficits and national debt. Both issues require prioritizing, and in the present and not the future. Perhaps one member of the commission now reviewing recommendations for reducing the deficit, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., can explain the urgency more succinctly than I: "If we don't act now — if we pass this issue on to another Congress, another generation — the tough choices we face now only get tougher."

Maintenance of the debt load itself teeters on explosiveness, and if not resolved our future may be consigned to a tax code that both takes far greater shares of working Americans' paychecks and starves even the most broadly accepted functions of government - law enforcement, grant and loan programs that assist cities and small towns with street and waterworks repair, and food and drug inspections among them - of resources.

And that's why the commission's slate of recommendations appears on course to unite people of strongly diverging opinions. As of Friday, the Associated Press reports the recommendations are receiving endorsements from Durbin and Republican Senators Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Mike Crapo of Idaho, stalwart conservatives. The seriousness of the issue and its impact on the future leads Durbin, who frequently gets 100 percent ratings from groups like the National Council of Senior Citizens and Alliance for Retired Americans, to endorse a plan that raises the age of eligibility for Social Security, and Crapo, who often gets 95 percent ratings from Americans for Tax Reform, to endorse a plan that curtails or eliminates many tax breaks and deductions.


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