To the Editor:
Fiscal cliff, here we come! Most of the woe-is-us hype in the media seems to be directed toward elaborating on the pain we are about to face if we try to solve our fiscal mess rather than defining the much greater pain we will experience if we don't fix the problem.
As I see it, the problem is that we are spending about $3.6 trillion a year (roughly, $25,000 per tax filer or closer to $40,000/actual taxpayer), while taking in only about $2.4 trillion ($16,000 per filer). On top of that, we have a national debt of about $16 trillion. Being responsible borrowers (and, to avoid losing our credit card), we need pay off our obligation in a reasonable manner (say, in 20 years at an interest rate of 4 percent). We would have to add another $4.8 trillion per year to the annual expenditure to do this (thus, increasing the needed annual tax revenue to about $58,000 per filer).
Ah hah! We can get the needed money from the fat cats. The Tax Policy Center estimates that there are about 6 million of them who earned above $200,000 per year, for a national total of $3.5 trillion per year (2011). If the government garnishees 100 percent of all income over $200,000, we could grab something less than another $2.9 trillion per year to apply to the problem (provided that the fat cats could continue to remain fat cats and shoulder the load, year after year). However, the rest of us would still face an annual tax burden of about $40,000 per filer.
No doubt, Fiscal Cliff jumping is going to be painful for all of us. The media could help by publicizing the likely consequences of not jumping, now before it's too late.
Lawrence (Former Athens resident)
Fairway Oaks Drive