The blog Approximately Perfect touched briefly on a question that has been nagging at me for a while now. It prompted me to ask a new Question o' the Day, which I now pose, in a completely non-smart-ass context, to all of you, whether you're liberal, conservative, libertarian, Marxist, populist, anarchist, Scientologist, orthodontist, whatever: Do any of you guys seriously believe we're not gonna need, or have, a major tax increase in the next 5-10 years?
Think about it: Our budget deficits for the last four years are, in order, $157.8 billion, $377.6 billion, $412.7 billion, and $318.3 billion. The fact that our deficits, while still staggeringly huge, have at least started to shrink would be cause for hope were it not for the fact that the national debt is increasing unabated -- $8,338,162,385,897.57 as of Tuesday, an increase of more than $400 billion just since the last fiscal year ended in September, at which point it had increased nearly $600 billion since the September before that. And other countries, one of the biggest being China, hold this particular I.O.U.
Now the quick-'n'-easy response to this situation is, "Well, we gotta cut spending." And yeah, it would be great if we could do that, and it would also be great if Elisha Cuthbert would pull up to my building in a Mercedes SLK, hand me the keys and a pair of Georgia season football tickets, and then take me out to Ben & Jerry's. But if there's one thing the last few years have made clear, it's that the current crop of goofballs in Congress has little to no interest in actually cutting spending. (And by the way, the first person to suggest that Republicans have any more moral superiority on this issue than Democrats is getting anonymously subscribed to a dozen gay-porn magazines.) You can rail away about spending all you want, but as long as assbags like Don Young roam the halls of Washington, I doubt a lot is going to get done about it.
Plus, even if we could lobotomize people like Young and Richard Shelby and whoever else and convince them to stop setting aside money for $250 million bridges, we'd still have to keep shoveling money into Iraq for both military and civilian/humanitarian expenses (for which, by the way, Rumsfeld just went to Congress holding a cardboard "Will Continue to Fuck Up for Food and Another $65 Billion" sign); we'd still have New Orleans to try and put together; and we'd also have to pay for a big-ass fence and whatever else Congress decides is going to be part of their solution to the immigration issue.
Seriously, people, deride me as an old-fashioned tax-and-spend liberal if you must -- though I defy anyone to tell me how that's any worse than a don't-tax-but-spend-anyway conservative -- but we're gonna need a tax hike pretty soon. Maybe it just involves rolling back the truly obnoxious tax cuts the wealthy have been getting for the past five years, maybe our situation is dire enough that everyone's gonna have to take a hit, but taxes are going to have to come up. And it probably needs to be sooner rather than later. Am I just Chicken Littling around by daring to come out and say so, or do you agree that we're really on the verge of (if not already completely immersed in) a fiscal pooch-screwing of monumental proportions?