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.

  • Play Practice
    DRAMA—Fayette schools, in conjunction with the Opera House Theater program, will present two plays Friday night at the Fayette Opera House. From the left is Autumn Black, Wyatt Mitchell, Elizabeth Myers, Jonah Perdue, Sam Myers (in the back) and Lauren Dale. Other cast members are Brynn Balmer, Mason Maginn, Ashtyn Dominique, Stephanie Munguia and Sierra Munguia. Jason Stuckey serves as the technician and Trinity Leady is the backstage manager. The plays will be performed during the day Friday for students and for the public at 7 p.m. Friday.
  • Front.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.rover
    CLEARING THE WAY—Road crossings in the area on the construction route of the Rover natural gas pipeline are marked with poles and flags as preliminary work nears. Ditches and field entry points are covered with thick planks in many areas to support equipment for tree clearing operations. Actual pipeline construction is progressing across Ohio toward a collecting station near Defiance. That segment of the project is expected to wrap up in July. The 42-inch line through Michigan and into Ontario is scheduled for completion in November. The line is projected to transport 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas every day.
  • Front.geese
    ON THE MOVE—Six goslings head out on manuevers with their parents in an area lake. Baby waterfowl are showing up in lakes and ponds throughout the area.
  • Accident
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  • 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.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.
  • Face Paint
    FUN NIGHT FUN—Savanna Miles sits patiently while Abbie White works on a face paint design Friday during the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Gracie Snead watches the progress after having spent time in the chair. Abbie was one of several volunteer painters, each creating their own unique look. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.

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