Most of today's problems have relatively simple solutions.
The deficit? No problem. Raise the highest marginal tax bracket from 35 percent back up to 40 percent and collect $700 billion over the next 10 years. Then, at the same time, cut military spending back to the levels of 10 years ago and save $350 billion per year.
Oil spill in the Gulf? Let the courts do what they do routinely to small business and BP will have paid over $1 trillion dollars while operating under court supervision. And now for the details:
I don't know too many people with incomes over $250,000 who would be that bent out of shape if they had to pay another 5 percent on everything beyond $250,000. That this tax would somehow cripple the economy is a dog that won't hunt. At higher income levels, people don't keep consuming more. They just sock more money away, and in today's flight to safety, that means more money sitting in U.S. government Treasury bills.
Anyone actually wanting to invest in new or expanding businesses gets a tax deduction for what they invest. It's called "Subchapter S loss pass-throughs" or simply deducting the cost of more salaries, space and phone bills. A higher marginal tax bracket doesn't affect any wealthy person who sincerely wants to create new jobs.
Military spending is by far the largest discretionary component of government spending, but the odd couple of Ron Paul and Al Franken are the only congressmen talking about cuts. The rest of Congress is cool to Defense Secretary Robert Gates' plans to scrap a number of military programs. Why? Because the typical military spending program is deliberately subcontracted out to companies spread out over an average of 150 different congressional districts. Ending pork barrel military spending costs jobs. The obvious solution would be to replace every military job cut with a comparable expenditure in education, health, and/or infrastructure repair -- something that triggers an immediate, tangible benefit to U.S. taxpayers. It's what FDR would have done.
As for that oil spill, no less authority than the late Matt Simmons had speculated that the cost to BP would exceed $1 trillion dollars and that the company would go bankrupt. Mr. Simmons, an acquaintance who died suddenly just weeks ago, was the author of "Twilight in the Desert" -- a recent book about the declining Saudi oil reserves which will be gone sooner than anyone wants to admit. The Houston company he founded is the world's largest petroleum-based investment banking organization. Now, with the venue of civil trials determined to be the Federal court in Louisiana, we'll see how sympathetic those juries will be as they hear thousands of civil suits against BP.
What this means for us as taxpayers is that we won't be left holding the bag on all those unemployment benefits and environmental cleanup bills. BP is already denying claims because they say the problem is the drilling moratorium rather than the spill they created. They need a taste of what the courts do to small businesses that are defendants in lawsuits.
In small business the defendant in a civil suit sits and watches while the courts run his or her business until the case is decided. The court names people to the board and effectively determines when and what money will be spent. Why this hasn't happened to BP yet is astounding to me, but just around the corner, they will get treated like every other business in America. The wheels of justice will grind out the $1 trillion predicted by Simmons.
Big problems. Simple solutions. As Churchill once said, "Americans eventually do the right thing ... after trying everything else."