I DOUBT we’ll ever pay it to zero, but we must trim our deficit. I doubt paying it to zero is even a worthy goal in our increasingly interdependent planetary system of government. Nonetheless, we must improve our debt-to-available-credit ratio to keep from going the way of Greece or Portugal. So how do we do it?
Republicans want to cut spending and Democrats want to raise taxes. Using both tactics to attack the deficit from above and below would be the common-sense approach: imagine wiping out 20 units of deficit with 10 units of spending cuts and another 10 units of increased tax revenue.
What’s interesting about the recent partisan atmosphere in Congress is that neither party is willing to implement even the slightest bit of advice from the other. The Republicans think higher taxes would discourage our fledgling recovery; Democrats think spending cuts would steal the safety net out from under the poor just as they need it the most. Add a healthy dose of Tea Partiers and your cup is steaming with a uniquely frustrating brew.
Let’s take a look at the past four or five years: the Democrats crushed the Republicans in 2008, maybe even too much. Americans didn’t necessarily support the left, they just opposed President George W Bush’s right. Democrats took this not as a referendum on the most recent presidency but rather as a mandate to push big programs through like healthcare reform.
In 2010, Republicans clawed back some of their losses in the Senate and actually gained control of the House – somewhat (remember those unruly Tea Partiers who have voted against Republican measures they found insufficiently conservative). Republicans took this not as a referendum on the Democrats’ bungling of healthcare reform – most notably losing the public option – but rather as a mandate to shrink government and undo Democratic legislation.
So, we’re left with a situation where the Republicans – who control roughly one-sixth of our government – are attempting to control the entire thing by its purse strings.
Don’t like healthcare reform but can’t repeal it? Defund it.
Don’t like center-left media coverage from National Public Radio? Defund it.
Don’t like abortion? Take the government to the brink of a shutdown before passing an eleventh hour stopgap bill with defunding for abortion tucked inside. Among other things.
To make things even more complex, you have fifty to sixty Tea Partiers in the House who think they’ve been elected not on a wave of antagonism towards Democrats but on a true desire to throw a wrench into the government. I don’t need to say much here since Nick Offerman is already doing a beautiful job satirizing this approach as Parks and Recreation’s Ron Swanson.
OK, well what about the Democrats? Some have grown disenchanted with Mr Obama for reaching out to the center too often. In some cases I agree, like the loss of a public option during healthcare reform; without it, we’ve only managed to legislate tens of millions of Americans’ worth of new profits for private healthcare companies. In other cases, I actually support a centrally-based president and bet the Democrats will move to the center along with Mr Obama as he prepares to win his office anew in 2012.
Like I said earlier, the common-sense approach to cutting our deficit would be to cut spending and raise taxes. If cutting spending is on the right, and raising taxes is on the left, then doing them both would by definition put you between the two – right in the center.
This is also known as the Simpson-Bowles deficit commission.
Live well, live well within your means, and remember – that’s how the Solvency Shark seas it!
Stewart Pelto

Stewart Pelto

Stewart Pelto is a recent graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is now the proud recipient of a Master’s degree in French Literature – a degree that honed the same researching and writing skills he uses to write informative articles today. While pursuing this degree, he taught French courses to undergraduate students for two years. What he enjoyed most about the position was the challenge of making difficult concepts readily understandable and accessible to all.

He served as a Senator for the Graduate and Professional Student Federation, fighting to keep tuition costs down for graduate students struggling with their finances and student loans. He also developed his budgeting skills during his time as a Treasurer for the Graduate Romance Association. He enjoyed becoming more active in his local community and working to make a positive effect on his surroundings.

While an undergraduate himself, he spent a year abroad in Europe earning his degree in Spanish and French. While studying in both Sevilla, Spain, and Montpellier, France, he was exposed to the everyday reality of living under different economic and financial systems. Among other interesting travels he has made is a financial pilgrimage to the Spanish stock market in Madrid.

Stewart Pelto brings his rigorous academic education and his international experience to the problem of raising credit awareness and promoting financial responsibility. He hopes that his articles will teach his readers about debt and credit in an easily accessible and readily understandable way.
Stewart Pelto