I'd like to ask for a show of hands on "big government." Would all those over 65 who would like to see cuts in Social Security and Medicare please raise their hands? Oh. Well, would all the people who live in towns near military bases and would like to see those bases closed in order to shrink out-of-control federal spending raise their hands?
How about everyone who drives on the interstate highways who would like to see their maintenance budget cut? Or farmers who rely on federal price supports? How about disabled veterans? Oh, maybe the people who lost their homes in Hurricane Sandy would like to see funding for FEMA cut back? How about coal miners with black lung?
Maybe fishermen who would like to eat more mercury in their fish would like to see the EPA budget cut? Parents who would like to have their children exposed to more lead in paint and in the air? Possibly some of the 3.4 million annual visitors to Yellowstone National Park, or some of the 4.2 million visitors to the Statue of Liberty would like to see funding slashed for the National Park Service?
The programs Republicans are talking about cutting are very popular with the American people. Some of them need more money, not less. Try living on $1,200 a month Social Security if you haven't any other income. Republicans want the President to take the onus and make the cuts, hoping they can force him to be the bad guy.
The real cause of our rising federal deficit is the tax cuts made by Republican administrations over the past 3 decades. They diminished federal income and increased spending.
The solution is simple: don't cut the programs that benefit millions of ordinary Americans. Don't raise taxes for people already struggling to make ends meet. Mitt Romney must have really had a hard time coming up with the 15 percent of his income he paid in federal taxes in 2011. Congress should raise taxes for those who are most able to pay.
Arno Vosk MD