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The debt-ceiling crisis has precipitated a huge debate throughout the country. Americans are waiting anxiously to see whether the president and Congress can forge a compromise, which brings stability to the country and enables the U.S. to meet its financial obligations. The country has faced similar predicaments in the past, but few have been so contentious and chock full of political theatrics and histrionics. 

Young people everywhere are presenting idealistic solutions to America’s current predicament. I strongly urge this group to temper its protestations. It is high time to inject some realism and practicality into a debate that has been all about ideals.  

Simply stated, Republicans, who are in control of the House, refuse to approve an increase in the U.S. debt limit that will enable the country to borrow more money to pay its bills, unless President Barack Obama and Democratic congressmen agree to a massive reduction in spending. Both parties believe that our national debt is too high, but they have not been able to negotiate a plan to reduce it. Democrats want to increase federal revenues principally by raising taxes on the wealthy, while Republicans want to decrease spending across the board.

Democratic lawmakers together with the president and liberal talking heads have fanned the flames of class warfare. For instance, they repeatedly say that wealthy Americans, who already pay 35% federal income taxes, plus another 10% state and local taxes in certain areas, are not paying “their fair share.” Essentially, the liberal dream is to redistribute wealth in the country and kill the American Dream, which rewards hard work with greater compensation. They prefer a more socialistic system in which big government directs our lives and entitles more people to financial assistance.

Republican lawmakers appear to have the most political leverage as we approach the 2012 elections, and the president must somehow close a deal to end the debt ceiling crisis before the election campaign goes into high gear. By refusing to compromise on any tax increases, Republicans will likely be able to force the federal government to pay down the national debt with a greater proportion of spending cuts than tax increases.

The obvious compromise is for Democrats to agree to a deal that favors spending cuts and insist that Republicans eliminate abusive entitlements and tax loopholes for businesses and wealthy individuals. The aforementioned will not include any increase in income tax rates, estate taxes or capital gains tax.  

The U.S. is expected to spend $769 billion on federal pensions, $791 billion on health care and $301 billion on welfare in 2011. Expectations are that these numbers will continue to increase at an unsustainable rate in the future. It is inconceivable that several hundred billion dollars cannot be cut from these expenditures over ten years without severe hardship to any groups. We have all heard about the waste and abuses affiliated with these programs; it is time that they were exposed and eliminated.

Defense expenditures in 2011 are expected to be $549.1 billion. Eliminating outdated weapons systems and ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq sooner will yield significant savings to reduce the budget even further. Delaying the ultimate pullout from both of these conflicts will only waste more American lives and resources.

As always, Democrats and Republicans in Congress will push back as cuts are proposed. No lawmaker wants to lose projects in his or her district or funding for constituents; obtaining money for voters keeps congressmen in office. But, the good times have passed; our government is spending more than it can afford. Cuts will be made and some lawmakers will inevitably lose their seats.

Being a product of the 1960's Cultural Revolution, I understand the attraction and benefits of political and social change and concur that it is important to take care of our needy. But, if the U.S. is unable to meet its financial obligations everybody will suffer. The younger generation should work more diligently to stay within the bounds of feasible compromise rather than bashing the military-industrial complex just because it is fashionable to do so.

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