This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The displeasure that President Obama expressed at his Wednesday press conference is correctly placed. Republicans in Congress are endangering both the short-term economic recovery, anemic as it may be, and the nation's long-term fiscal health by fiercely clinging to their absurd objection to any budget solution that includes new revenues.
The facts that everyone agrees on are these: If the federal debt limit, already exceeded in all but name, is not raised by Aug. 2, the government is liable to start defaulting on its debts, with catastrophic results. The budget deficit, inflated by essential efforts to pull the world out of its economic nosedive, is huge and must be addressed. Spending, on everything from Medicare to missiles, must be cut.
The facts that the Republicans are in active denial about are these: There is no way to truly address the deficit without increasing revenues. A cuts-only budget-balancing approach would devastate not just programs that benefit the poor and working classes, it would also be a knife in the economic back for millions of other people, from retirees to hospitals to federal contractors, and would smother the embers of economic recovery.
Add to that the fact, which Republicans and their contributors refuse to acknowledge, that federal tax rates are historically low and, in comparison with other advanced nations, tiny. Restoring them merely to Reagan-era levels would go a long way toward facing the budget crisis. And, as a percentage of the U.S. gross domestic product, federal government receipts haven't been this low since the Korean War.
Arguments that taxes on the wealthy cannot be raised, or that those who run hedge funds, fly private jets or are charging nearly $4 for a gallon of gasoline cannot afford to lose $400 billion in tax benefits over the next decade are insulting the intelligence of the American people. Yet Republicans are boycotting necessary and urgent budget talks because they absolutely will not budge on this point.
This is the atmosphere in which Utah's senators, Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, parade around in support of sheer budgetary madness, which they call "Cut, Cap and Balance," a groundless approach that argues that America neither needs nor can afford increased revenue if it is to have any hope of balancing its books without leaving a giant, smoldering crater where the world's economy used to be.
If the Republicans will not stop holding their breath until the economy turns blue, they will have given the American people no reason to prefer their leadership over even the weak version offered by the Democrats.