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Mark Caserta: Control on spending is necessary first step

Nov. 22, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

Discontent with our federal government's inability to deal with our nation's financial woes is prompting extraordinary reactions from the states.

A recent headline in The Los Angeles Times read: "White House receives secession pleas from all 50 states."

A movement designed to send a clear fiscal message began last week with people in the state of Texas petitioning the White House to "Peacefully grant the State of Texas to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government" in light of our government's inability to deal with its looming fiscal crisis.

The Texas residents' petition declared dissatisfaction that the U.S. "continues to suffer economic difficulties stemming from the federal government's neglect to reform domestic and foreign spending" and U.S. citizens suffer from "blatant abuses of their rights." The petition further explained the state's obligation to "re-secure their rights and liberties ... which are no longer being reflected by the federal government."

I've consistently maintained that raising taxes on Americans at any income level would be superfluous in addressing our national debt as long as the federal government continues its reckless spending.

Yet, despite our legislators' unwillingness to pull their own fiscal house in order, President Obama is "doubling down" on his insistence that raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans is not only integral to steering away from the so-called "fiscal cliff" but citing his election victory as a "mandate" from the people.

"I argued for a balanced, responsible approach and part of that included making sure that the wealthiest Americans pay a little bit more," Obama said. "I think every voter out there understood that was an important debate, and the majority of voters agreed with me."

First, Mr. President, let's discard the notion that a significant majority agrees with you. You won the election with 50.1 percent of the popular vote -- hardly convincing enough to be described as a "mandate from the people." Ronald Reagan defeated Walter Mondale in 1984 with 59 percent of the vote.

Second, according to many analysts' calculations, taxing millionaires at 100 percent would still only run the federal government for a little over two-and-a-half months, having negligible impact.

Third, the top 10 percent of income earners pay around 71 percent of all federal income taxes. The bottom 50 percent paid 2 percent while earning 13 percent of the income. And about half of all tax filers paid no federal income tax at all!

Where is the fairness, Mr. President? We don't need more taxes. We need more taxpayers and a federal government which can manage the revenue!

Our federal government has now been without a budget for over three years. In January, due to its lamentable inability to manage our tax dollars, our nation faces a "cliff dive" of cuts and tax increases that would be damaging and irresponsible.

Finding political harmony will be difficult. But before we can ever hope to manage our debt, and before we should ever raise taxes, the federal government must first control its spending.

However, few seem optimistic at this point.

Mark Caserta is a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

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