Did your grammar school have one of those enrichment programs? Mine did. We would do wacky stuff that was way above our ability: follow the stock market, write novels, and build bridges that were two feet in length and could support a shotput with nothing but three sheets of paper, a handful of paper clips and three feet of masking tap. Why do I mention this? It’s essentially my credentials for being a person of some intelligence and therefore being qualified to solve a national crisis.
First off, lets just Raise the Debt Limit already. Even the barest of analysis tells us that a default will damage America’s credit rating, and the trickle down will raise costs of everyone as interest rates go up. Now if you’re worried about the Chinese and how much of our debt they own, and you think that it stands to reason that they would be mad if we defaulted… well, they would be, but frankly, they own so much of our debt that they are basically screwed no matter what. I heard a smarter person than me put it this way: "If you owe the bank a million dollars, then the bank owns you. If you owe the bank a billion dollars, then you own the bank… and the Chinese own way more than a billion dollars of our debt. Where else are they going to put there money?" I’m paraphrasing, but you get the idea.
And it’s not like we’ve never raised the debt limit before. I was born at the end of 1980 and in my lifetime, the debt limit has been raised… wait for it… 36 times. THIRTY. SIX. TIMES. I’m not saying this is a good thing, but given that Congress has raised the debt ceiling more times than the number of years I’ve been alive over several administrations, I think it might be fair to call raising the debt limit business as usual. Just raise the damn thing already and quit wasting my time!
In my opinion, the best way to get rid of debt is to pay it off, and the best way to pay something off is to have money you can use to pay said bills, which means incurring revenue. I have two very simple ways to do this:
1. BUSH TAX CUTS REPEAL & SOLAR PANEL TAX BREAK INITIATIVE
In case you were wondering, that’s the greatest name for a law ever. Much better than "Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA)" or "Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 (JGTRRA)," right? Those are the Bush Tax Cut laws, which are set to expire in a few months, so we don’t really need to repeal them so much as just not renew them. The simple fact is that when you owe a ton of money, you have to pay it back, and the longer you wait, the worse it gets – it’s called interest. So spending a ton of money (Iraq, Medicare Drug Program) while reducing income was not the best of ideas, but the idea that reduced tax rates are sustainable is totally insane, especially when you already have a ton of debt, never mind the fees these programs are still incurring.
Yeah, we have to raise taxes, but don’t worry, I’ve got your back, rich folks: solar panels. That’s right – my solution to easing your tax burden (which you can afford anyway because you’re rich) is solar panels. Own a business? Own a property? Own a home? Awesome – just slap some solar panels on your houses, business, and over your parking lots and I’ll cut you a fat multi-year tax break. Hell, if you rent the space where your business operates out of and your landlord puts up solar panels, I’ll still give you and the landlord the tax break. Look what I just did: I raised revenue with increased taxes, offered a loophole that will create jobs (which creates more tax payers) and helped the environment.
2. LEGALIZE MARIJUANA
You know what else costs a lot of money, anxiety and danger? Marijuana importation from Mexico. A simple way to increase revenues, secure the southern border and cut spending would be to legalize marijuana and tax the hell out of it… or, tax it back to the ‘stoned age,’ as I think we should say. This will diminish the violence on the border (not to mention in Mexico), create a new cash crop for farmers, make us safer (despite all of the stoned people wandering around movie theaters) and bring in additional revenue… Oh, and then there’s all the money we’ll save on our police, court and prison system. The cops won’t have to waste time and money on marijuana investigations, the courts won’t be clogged with possession cases and we won’t have to pay for people sitting in already overcrowded prisons. But let me be clear: I’m talking about a regulated product that is sold in stores to adults ages 21 and over – not something sold on the street corner to anybody with money. We should still take care of that. But there is no reason not to make money off marijuana – especially when we need money so desperately and Americans are smoking it anyway.
No, I’m not running for president
But I totally should, right? I’ll think about it in 2016… I like Obama, I don’t want to spoil his flava in 2012 – although he’s a bit too compromising for my tastes. In any case, write your congressmen and tell them to get this debt ceiling nonsense settled, ASAP – and turn off the Ben Affleck movies.