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US Debt Rises as Supercommittee Deadline Ticks Down

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Back in August, during the debate over raising the debt ceiling, a record 82 percent of Americans disapproved of the way Congress was handling its job. Now, three months later, that all-time low dropped two more points to 84 percent as the debt supercommittee remains at an impasse over finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions before their Thanksgiving deadline.

The debt ceiling was raised, and yesterday the US debt topped the $15 trillion mark. Now the serious cuts need to be made—our government can’t continue spending itself more into an insurmountable debt.

The Democrats won’t budge on making cuts to entitlement programs, and Republicans understandably are against increasing taxes in a down economy—but the truth of the matter is that spending has to be cut, and most Americans don’t believe that Congress is up to the challenge.

Before November 23, Congress must do something; otherwise an automatic $1.2 trillion in spending cuts will go into effect for domestic programs and the Pentagon. Cuts to defense are something that we cannot risk with constant terrorist threats and cyber-warfare.

Instead, the supercommittee needs to address the nation’s Social Security program. As Lori Montgomery wrote in the Washington Post, “Social Security is sucking money out of the Treasury. This year, it will add a projected $46 billion to the nation’s budget problems, according to projections by system trustees.” Reworking Social Security is something that has to take place in the supercommmittee recommendations, otherwise benefit checks will not be coming to the rising tide of baby boomers.

Also, the committee needs to come to an agreed explanation to the question of “What exactly is a tax increase?” The committee will never find an agreement in the idea of increasing taxes on the rich in order to help fund entitlement programs. But I think it’s possible to recommend a gradual reduction of tax loopholes in order to increase revenue. This method would create roughly $300 billion in increased “tax revenues.”

Other areas of possible revenue could be rolling back on staffing levels for federal jobs to 2006 levels. This could be done by eliminating wasteful and duplicative programs. For example, U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) submitted an oversight report on The National Science Foundation and found them “spending $1 million for an analysis of how quickly parents respond to trendy baby names.” Coburn offers up one of many possible federal programs that could afford budget reduction or a permanent cut altogether.

The supercommittee has been encouraged to “go big” on the recommendations for cuts and their plans to find new revenue. But I think to most Americans and American business owners, they just want Congress to be decisive and make the necessary and proper recommendations before November 23. That way the country can be back on the path to reducing excess spending and regaining its AAA credit-rating.

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