Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Clouded Thinking

Solutions to the world's major problems aren't actually as difficult as they often seem - or rather, they wouldn't be nearly as difficult if it weren't for all the stupid human beings most simple solutions run into.

In part, we're talking about the story we linked to in Tuesday's edition by Brad Plumer, about the pollution problems in China. As Plumer details, if China would actually make some serious commitments to energy and transportation reform and environmental controls, and then would stick to those commitments, the Chinese government might make some serious headway in cleaning up their smoggy skies.

The biggest problem China appears to be having is that its plans to clean up its environmental act keep running into the clouded selfish decisions of some its own people.

In America, we know exactly how that kind of clouded thinking works - or doesn't - as some of that same kind of clouded thinking is so obviously behind the Congressional Republican's latest budget wish list, and our nation's ongoing budget battles.

On Tuesday, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan rolled out the latest version of his previously failed budget plan, the one that Americans rejected completely just four months ago in one of the most decisive election defeats in recent memory. If Rep. Ryan was a wise man, he would have taken that severe thumping as a message from the American people on how they wanted their government to be run.

Ryan, however, doesn't seem to have learned anything from his embarrassing defeat. Instead, Rep. Ryan's "new and improved" plan proposes even bigger tax cuts for the rich, leaves out even more details than his last plan, and decimates Medicaid and other social services for the poor and elderly. Further, Ryan's budget plan dishonestly assumes the Affordable Care Act - also known as "Obamacare" - will be repealed, which is about as likely as Rep. Ryan himself being elected the next Pope.

As Ezra Klein so succinctly put it on Tuesday, Ryan's budget is simply "social engineering with a side of deficit reduction."

Thankfully, our U.S. government isn't only run by those being deliberately dumb with numbers like Rep. Ryan.

Sen. Patty Murray and Senate Democrats, with some consultation from the White House, released a sneak peak of their own honestly balanced budget plan late Tuesday, which includes both revenue increases and targeted, wise budget cuts - unlike the ongoing, dumb, across-the-board sequester cuts.

The full Democratic plan won't be released until later today, but the information that's been leaked shows that Democrats actually paid attention to what the American people said they wanted in last fall's elections.

The Democratic budget plan calls for $1.85 trillion to slice budget deficits, through an equal mix of closing tax loopholes on corporations, tax increases on the rich, spending cuts, and job creating stimulus.

That's right - the Democratic plan calls for highly targeted stimulus spending to generate jobs, and begin repairing our national infrastructure. Jobs - what Americans REALLY care about.

When you take a look at both budget plans, side by side, with a clear head and real people in mind, it's really hard not to see that Democrats have honestly taken into account both what Americans need and what Americans realistically want.

Republicans, led by Paul Ryan, are still wondering around with their heads in the clouds, refusing to accept the message of the 2012 election - or the reality that Republican's plans for "winning" are not realistically possible.