To the editor:
The American public, including those of us in Southwest Florida, focus so heavily on the local and state issues surrounding pension and health care cost short- and long-term liabilities, but we seldom hear about the same regarding the federal issue with Social Security and Medicare. In an article written by two individuals and published in the WSJ this week, Chris Cox and Bill Archer, who began their involvement with this "discussion" almost 20 years now as key members of the Clinton Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform, discuss key financial viability truths that our politicos fail to acknowledge that we, as a country, must face.
One of these truths is that, if the IRS were to tax 100 percent of the adjusted gross incomes of all earners making more than $66,000 year and all of the corporate earnings generated in the year prior to the recession, the total amount would not cover the Federal budget and liability increases associated with Medicare, Social Security, and Federal employee programs generated from this year alone. Per their calculation, Cox and Archer state that the actual debt of the U.S., inclusive of this long-term unfunded liability, is in excess of $86 trillion! The discussion in D.C. today about increasing taxes on the top 2 percent of earners is nothing more than an emotional distraction from the true issues. These monies, acknowledged by the Congressional Budget Office, would fund only eight days of the U.S. government's expenses, without dealing with the true issues of our long-term financial viability as a nation.
It is unfortunate that the issues, as discussed, are not brought forward by the politicos in Washington and haven't been intentionally for so long. It is, however, predictable that there would be little focus on these issues which are such politically dangerous linchpins for elections and re-elections, as these are often called the third rail of politics. We hold our local officials accountable for the financial viability of their organizations, but we continue to allow the federal legislators to worsen the financial position of our country without that same required accountability. Somehow, we all have to start demanding the same of our elected federal representatives, given the conclusions of Cox, Archer, and so many others. Even if we don't do this for us, then we must do so for the generations who follow us. For those interested in the article, it can be found through this link. online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323353204578127374039087636.html