Hey Rich Folks, Fix This Debt With Taxes!

If you were wondering why the bipartisan commission seems strangely designed not to achieve anything, here's one reason why. In a new Bloomberg poll,

Two- thirds of Americans favor taxing the rich to reduce the deficit [Ed: Including about 50 percent of self-described Republicans. Huh!]

Well, the House Republican Whip Eric Cantor promises to cover his ears and scream loudly at the very mention of a tax increase until unemployment is under 5 percent (which means, what, six years at least?). Any other ideas, America?

Even though almost 9 of 10 respondents also say they believe the middle class will have to make financial sacrifices to achieve that goal, only a little more than one-fourth support an increase in taxes on the middle class. Fewer still back cuts in entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare or a new national consumption tax.

So the best deficit-busting measures are also the most unpopular. Not a big surprise. I'm guessing most respondents weren't flipping through CBO reports when they answered Bloomberg's questions, but this graph from the Congressional Budget Office makes perfectly clear that our long-term debt crisis is a surging Medicare flood spilling over a dam of tax revenue. The most logical way to avoid the coming inundation is to control the flood and raise the dam.

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Ryan Avent has the right response for now. To lift that dark blue line of tax revenues in the next few years, we need to focus on short-term spending to reduce the unemployment rate and get these people some spendable, taxable income.