Do nothing: Send Congress home to save some cash 2011.12.07

Written by David Green.

The country of Belgium has inadvertently provided the U.S. with a way of solving a good share of its financial woes: Just do nothing.

Belgium went without a government for 536 days—a modern world record—and that offers a solution for us. According to an analysis by the Center for American Progress, if Congress continues in its current deadlocked fashion and is unable to pass any measures to address our economic woes, the budget deficit will nearly disappear.

In other words, if our elected officials just went home, the federal deficit would become smaller and smaller. Perhaps we could just lay them off and force them to live off unemployment benefits and buy their own health insurance. We know that’s a silly example because 47 percent of our representatives and senators are millionaires.

Projections by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office find that if Congress were to do nothing until January 2013, the budget deficit—as a percentage of the gross domestic product—would plunge from its current 8.5 percent to only 1.6 percent by 2014.

If nothing is done about the special debt reduction committee’s failure to agree on a solution, then $1.2 trillion worth of cuts will automatically begin.

If Congress can’t come up with the votes to renew the Bush-era tax cuts—now under an extension from Obama-era actions—the debt will fall by $3 trillion, or about 40 percent of the deficit.

These are the tax cuts that benefit the wealthiest five percent of households.

Other tax breaks and Medicare adjustments are scheduled to expire by the end of the year, adding up to an additional $2 trillion.

In fact, says Michael Linden of the Center for American Progress, the do-nothing option reduces the deficit by much more than any other plan on the table, and all of them, including the Republican budget plan, would increase debt by $1 trillion or more.

Linden knows the do-nothing plan does not necessarily lead to the best outcome, and it leaves unanswered questions. How would it affect job creation and economic growth? Who would bear the burden? Would it solve underlying problems?

The problem is that Congress will likely only make things worse, making the simple do-nothing plan somewhat attractive. Perhaps we should just send them all home.

  • Front.little Ball
    Fayette's Demetrious Whiteside (left)Skylar Lester attempt to keep the ball from going out of bounds during Morenci's recent basketball tournament for fourth and fifth grade teams. Morenci's Andrew Schmidt stands by.
  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
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    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

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