By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOFPublished: July 20, 2011
The first few times I heard House Republicans talk about our budget mess, I worried that they had plunged off the deep end. But as I kept on listening, a buzzer went off in my mind, and I came to understand how much sense the Tea Party caucus makes.
Why would we impose “job-crushing taxes” on wealthy Americans just to pay for luxuries like federal prisons? Why end the “carried interest” tax loophole for financiers, just to pay for unemployment benefits — especially when those same selfless tycoons are buying yachts and thus creating jobs for all the rest of us?
Hmmm. The truth is that House Republicans don’t actually go far enough. They should follow the logic of their more visionary members with steps like these:
BONUSES FOR BILLIONAIRES Republicans won’t extend unemployment benefits, even in the worst downturn in 70 years, because that makes people lazy about finding jobs. They’re right: We should be creating incentives for Americans to rise up the food chain by sending hefty checks to every new billionaire. This could be paid for with a tax surcharge on regular working folks. It’s the least we can do.
Likewise, the government should take sterner measures against the persistent jobless. Don’t just let their unemployment benefits expire. Take their homes!
Oh, never mind! Silly me! The banks are already doing that.
LET JOBS TRICKLE DOWN L Leftist pundits say that House Republicans don’t have a jobs plan. That’s unfair! Granted, the Republican-sponsored Cut, Cap and Balance Act would eliminate 700,000 jobs in just its first year, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, but those analysts are no doubt liberals. America’s richest 400 people own more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans, and the affluent would feel renewed confidence if the Republican plan passed. We’d see a hiring bonanza. Each of those wealthy people might hire an extra pool attendant. That’s 400 jobs right there!
Cut, Cap and Balance would go even further than the Ryan budget plan in starving the beast of government. Sure, that’ll mean cuts in Social Security, Medicare and other programs, but so what? Who needs food safety? How do we know we really need air traffic control unless we try a day without it? p>
ROOT OUT SOCIALISM Republicans have been working to end Medicare as we know it but need to examine other reckless entitlements, such as our socialized education system, in which public schools fritter resources on classes like economics and foreign languages. As a former Texas governor, Miriam “Ma” Ferguson, is said to have declared when she opposed the teaching of foreign languages: “If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it’s good enough for us.”
For that matter, who needs socialized police and fire services? We could slash job-crushing taxes at the local level and simply let the free market take over:
“9-1-1, may I help you?” “Yes, help! My house is burning down!” “Very good, sir. I can offer you one fire engine for $5,995, or two for just $10,000.” “Help! My family’s inside. Send three fire engines! Just hurry!” “Yes, sir. Let me just run your credit card first. And if you require the fire trucks immediately, there’s a 50 percent ‘rush’ surcharge.”
CHILL OUT ABOUT THE DEBT CEILING House Republicans like Michele Bachmann are right: If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, some solution will turn up. As Representative Austin Scott, a Republican from Georgia, observes: “In the end, the sun is going to come up tomorrow.”
We got through the Great Depression, didn’t we? It looked pretty hopeless in 1929, but in just a dozen years World War II bailed us out with an economic stimulus. Something like that’ll come along for us, too. Ya gotta have faith.
CONSIDER ASSET SALES While Democrats are harrumphing about “default,” Republicans have sagely noted that there are alternatives in front of our noses. For example, why raise taxes on hard-pressed managers of hedge funds when the government can sell assets?
Fort Knox alone has 4,600 tons of gold, which I figure is worth around $235 billion. That’s enough to pay our military budget for four months! And selling Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon would buy us time as well.
RENT OUT CONGRESS If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, we could also auction members of Congress for day jobs: Are you a financier who wants someone to flip burgers (steaks?) at your child’s birthday party? Why, here’s Eric Cantor! Many members of Congress already work on behalf of tycoons, and this way the revenue would flow to the Treasury.
Finally, if we risk default, let’s rent out the Capitol for weddings to raise money for the public good. Wouldn’t it be nice to see something positive emerge from the House?