Seamans: Fiscal Confusion

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(HOST)  Commentator Bill Seamans says that if the Budget debate is making your head spin – don’t worry – you’ve got plenty of company.

(SEAMANS)  We are confused.  President Obama noted our condition when he said the other day that the debate over whether the government would be shut down was – in his words – "adding to the public’s confusion."   His  budget speech on Wednesday did not relieve that condition.  We the people still are looking for the details about how the Democrats and Republicans propose to reduce the budget deficit.  I hate to use that old cliché but the Devil IS in the details and he might well be holding the keys to the White House in 2012.

Representative Paul Ryan jumped the gun with a Republican proposal to cut the deficit by 4.4 trillion dollars over 10 years and Obama proposed 4 trillion over 12 years – we painfully notice that we’re now talking easily about about trillions, no longer just mere millions.  What comes after trillions?

After Obama’s budget address, we now at least have both parties’ overall plans that have launched an expectedly acrimonious debate about what cuts should be made – which, it’s said, has really launched the 2012  presidential campaign.  According to the Hill newspaper, top Republican leaders said they "heard a campaign speech masquerading as a fiscal reform speech."  Obama charged that the Republican plan is "less about reducing the deficit than it is about changing the basic social compact."

It’s said that Obama finally decided to get tough as the criticism that he was a weak sidelines leader pushed him up the steps to his Bully Pulpit to give his budget address.  But we the people on Main Street wanted to hear more than generalities about what could happen to our health care, social security and taxes safety net.

Why is the public confused?  One major reason is that we are being snowed by an agenda-driven statistical storm that is virtually impossible to follow and by what’s called "Washington Speak."  Politicians tend to use elusive jargon like "they intend to end Medicare as we know it."  Translated that means "they plan to KILL Medicare!"   Or we need "tax reform" – what does "reform" mean?  Will they close those loopholes that legally allow corporate billions to escape to overseas tax shelters?  Obama got close to Main Street speak when he said he will refuse to renew the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy – that we cannot afford a trillion dollars worth of tax cuts for every millionaire and billionaire in our society – those were words Main Street can understand.

Also, I think that our celebrity political savants have not done much to clear away our fog of confusion.  Listening to their caveated comments on Sunday’s talking-head shows they sounded as confused as President Obama said we the people are.

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