Now that the debt limit bill has passed, it is time for Congress to move to a new mode of responsible governing. It seems clear to me that our legislature is under the control of ideological extremists and big business and financial interests.
Our founding fathers were familiar with the “scientific method” and regarded the Constitution and their new nation as a kind of experiment, and they referred to it that way.
The elements of the scientific method include:
1. Objective observations
2. Develop a theory or hypothesis
3. Design an experiment
4. Carry it out
Then go to step one, and fine tune the experiment.
In the case of our country, the Constitution was the experiment, and the Amendments are the fine tuning, as a result of observations made on how it was working (and some changed national values). The key point is there is no room for rigid ideology and biased observations.
What is happening now? We had a financial crisis that provided strong evidence that effective regulation of derivatives is desperately needed. My understanding is that effective legislation is nowhere in sight. We have caved into financial interests and lost sight of our citizen’s best interests. A scientific approach would have produced a more effective solution.
Now Congress has passed the debt ceiling bill, and two problems surfaced in that process. The Republican party, or perhaps Congress, was held hostage by an ideological principle of “no tax increase” a position that does not seem well-based on its effect on jobs. The shred of validity for that idea exists for small business owners who may indeed slow hiring if they expect severe tax increases. However, that’s not the wealthiest in the country, and the wealthiest should have been required to participate in the deficit reduction. That brings us to the second problem, and that is we seem to once again caved in to large financial interests by not taxing the wealthy. It is clear to me that a fair approach, and a more effective one, would have been to combine budget cuts with carefully designed tax increases.
Tax rates are at a historic low and these countries all have higher taxes as a percentage of GDP: Japan, Switzerland, Australia, Ireland, Canada, Greece, New Zealand, Israel, Russia, Portugal, Hungary, Spain, Brazil, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Australia, Finland, Norway, France, Belgium, Sweden, and Denmark.
There are things our country needs to do, that are not getting done, and these things need to be paid for.
Round two will be the joint Congressional Committee. Let’s hope they can come up with a balanced approach to our fiscal problems.