Guest column: Republican solutions to the ‘fiscal cliff’

Alan Rhea

Our nation’s economy is headed for a downfall. Both political parties fight over who can best solve our problems, but remember: It took the pen of Thomas Jefferson and the voice of John Adams to birth our nation — and I believe both sides can join in compromise to solve the budget crisis.

Republicans want to reform entitlement programs to decrease spending, and the GOP has also expressed a willingness to raise taxes to increase federal revenue. In similar fashion, Democrats want to sequester defense spending to decrease the federal budget and raise taxes to increase revenue.

The Cato Institute, a fiscally conservative think tank, supports reforms to Social Security and Medicare, the elimination and cutbacks of subsidies to individuals and business, cuts to military spending and the privatization and elimination of a plethora of federal programs.

I concur with solutions offered by the Cato Institute. In order to keep us from economic collapse, our lawmakers need to act soon and make a plan for the future. The American people need to demand a bipartisan approach that limits big government and reforms its wasteful spending habits.

First, cut and reform entitlement programs. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the 2011 U.S. federal budget spent $725 billion on Social Security, $480 billion on Medicare and $275 billion on Medicaid.

Before the 2012 election, President Barack Obama supported the raising of a minimum age (from 65 to 67) at which individuals could begin to collect Medicare benefits. Also, though Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill., recently ruled against it, he once supported entitlement reforms to tackle spending problems. We need these solutions to change the system for the better, and Democrats would be met with Republican support if their offers weren’t consistently taken off the table.

Second, cut military spending. The U.S. federal government spent $711 billion on its defense budget in 2011. The 13 countries who spent the most after us — China, Russia, the U.K., France, Japan, India, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Brazil, Italy, South Korea, Australia and Canada, many of whom are strong allies — accounted for a combined $695 billion in military spending.

I believe, at this point, the U.S. should focus on its economic needs more so than its military strength. I would rather cut our military than be economically indebted to a foreign entity. Homeland security consists of more than the ability to wage a war. It is an unstable economy that brings about the downfall of a nation, for even a powerful military is only acquired and maintained through a stable, prosperous economy.

Third, do not raise taxes. Give a politician $1, he will take it, spend $50,000, and then hand you back an IOU slip on which no payback date will be noted. Revenue acquired through taxpayer dollars needs to be delegated responsibly by Congress. New revenues will come about through reforms, not an increase in burdensome taxes on business and individuals.

Fourth, cut back government regulations and eliminate tax loopholes. Free up the private sector. Give small business owners and entrepreneurs the tools to take risks and create prosperity; their spirit and American ingenuity will spark growth in the economy and provide Americans with jobs. I am not in favor of raising taxes, but I do believe in giving what is owed, and big business cheating the system through tax loopholes is not fiscal responsibility.

It is only through proper leadership from both parties that we can solve our nation’s problems. The solution is simple: Americans need to demand action. Write or call your U.S. representative or senator and demand real change. I would like to see a bipartisan effort that truly fixes the economy. Give Americans a reason to trust Congress and the presidency once again. Realize a goal, plan a solution and solve the problem. With a bit of hard work, we can fix this nation for the better.

Contact Alan Rhea at [email protected].