- Mar 28, 2007
In Which a progressive writes an article about the economy:
The #3 government expense is interest payments.
That's 318billion not spent on social or environmental programs.
A debt free America would free 318billion annually because of Republican leaders who felt balancing the budget was unimportant.
We do need to address climate change, energy use, and healthcare, but simply increasing spending is not the only way to do it.
Changes in laws, regulations, and taxes could improve these areas while actually bringing in money.
In order to balance the budget, the most effective agenda would focus on the highest expenses.
First, reducing our military spending to the level of the nation with the 2nd highest spending or just above allows us to maintain a military edge, but saves 400 billion a year (we currently spend 10 times as much as any other one nation; as much as the rest of the world combined)
Second, a nationalized healthcare system would actually save the government billions compared to our current system - estimates range as high as 50%, or 200 billion a year.
As noted, eliminating US debt saves another 300 billion a year.
Its easy to try to curb pollution by throwing money at technology, but a more effective approach may actually be market based - with one significant intervention. Increase tax on gasoline and coal, say 500% and consumers will individually take it upon themselves to buy smaller cars, bicycle more, take public transit, and save power. Industry will have incentive to produce better technologies and more efficient products. And instead of costing government funds, it would bring in additional funds.
While it is true that ignoring social needs in favor of the economy can not be sustainable in the long run, the inverse is equally true.
The progressive economic agenda should be sustainability and quality of life. An ever increasing debt can never be sustainable.