What would Warren Buffett say to the National Commission?

By Patricia L Johnson and Richard E Walrath

President Obama’s Executive Order of February 18, 2010 established the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform whose mission includes:

“identifying policies to improve the fiscal situation in the medium term and to achieve fiscal sustainability over the long run. Specifically, the Commission shall propose recommendations designed to balance the budget, excluding interest payments on the debt, by 2015. This result is projected to stabilize the debt-to-GDP ratio at an acceptable level once the economy recovers. The magnitude and timing of the policy measures necessary to achieve this goal are subject to considerable uncertainty and will depend on the evolution of the economy. In addition, the Commission shall propose recommendations that meaningfully improve the long-run fiscal outlook, including changes to address the growth of entitlement spending and the gap between the projected revenues and expenditures of the Federal Government.”

The Commission is required to prepare a final report by December 1, 2010 containing recommendations approved by no less than 14 of the 18 members.  The Co-Chairs, Sen. Alan Simpson, Former Republican Senator from Wyoming and Erskine Bowles, Chief of Staff to President Clinton, released their draft on November 10, 2010, which included a significant number of proposals. 

Submit Ideas

The Commission welcomes your input as we seek out creative solutions to our nation’s mid- and long-term fiscal challenges. Anyone can submit comments, ideas, and suggestions at anytime via email by contacting commission@fc.eop.gov. All comments received, including attachments and other supporting materials, are part of the public record. Due to the volume of comments we receive, we are not able to respond to each submission.

Email comments tocommission@fc.eop.gov.

The Commission draft released on November 10, 2010 contained many proposals dealing with tax cuts.  The problems with tax cuts, is they put us further in debt.

The period when President Reagan was in office is considered, by many, to have been great years for our economy.  The Economic Recovery Act of 1981, or the Reagan reign of tax-cuts for the rich, which reduced the high tax from 70 percent to 50 percent actually had an estimated revenue loss of $39.5 billion, which dramatically increased the national debt.   Source:  CBO “Effects of the 1981 Tax Act on the Distribution of Income and Taxes Paid”,


Historically, the United States has paid for wars by raising taxes.  History shows we’ve managed to get out of the hole even after the huge amounts spent by the government during World War II.  This country didn’t start to really hit the skids until we failed to pay for the war in Vietnam.  Tax-cuts for the rich, enacted during the Bush Administration, and our two wars account for the majority of our current debt and deficit.  We went from having a budget surplus as far as the eye could see, under President Clinton, to not being able to see the light under Republican leadership.

Returns are still coming in, but so far the National Commission headed by Simpson and Bowles is getting almost a 100% thumbs-down for its suggestions.  When you’re lost in the woods, the best way out is usually the same way you got in.  In this case, the bread crumbs clearly mark the trail–War and Tax-cuts for the Rich.

It wasn’t Social Security or Medicare that got us into the fix we’re in.  It wasn’t  “entitlements” unless you mean that the rich think they’re “entitled” to huge tax-cuts. 

As Warren Buffett says, and he should know, there is class warfare going on, and the rich are winning. 

© Patricia L Johnson and Richard E Walrath

Note:  Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway will appear Thanksgiving in an exclusive interview on “This Week” with Christiane Amanpour on ABC.

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