Unless we take action now, our nation may confront a situation similar to the Great Depression--and maybe even worse. Our economic growth has been sluggish for nearly two decades. The unemployment numbers remain depressing, while the Federal Reserve worries about inflation.
The institutions we depend on to preserve our financial security are shaky. If they fail, millions of people will be devastated. . . .
Our economy is perched on the edge of a cliff. Either we work together to climb back to safety, or we must brace ourselves for potential disaster. . . .
In June, 117,000 more Americans were thrown out of work. . . . In July, eight companies announced they were shedding 23,000 jobs. Those were just the \o7 announced layoffs.\f7
The federal debt is now $4 trillion. . . . Our political leaders will add over $330 billion to that debt in 1992 alone. . . .
Today all the income taxes collected from the states west of the Mississippi go to pay the \o7 interest \f7 on that debt. . . .
Interest doesn't buy a thing. It doesn't spur new business to give people jobs. It doesn't help people out of poverty. It doesn't maintain our highways. It doesn't protect our forests and national parks. It doesn't put more police on the streets. It doesn't restore our inner cities. It doesn't defend us. It will never build a classroom or fund research to fight disease. . . .
Suppose the American people demanded radical action tomorrow to eliminate just this year's addition to the debt. . . . Here are some radical but unrealistic choices to show just how big the deficit is:
- Shut down the Defense Department. Abolish the entire Army, Navy and Air Force. That wouldn't be enough to erase $330 billion of new debt.
- Shut down all the public schools nationwide. That would get us $330 billion.
- Seize the profits of all the Fortune 500 companies. That doesn't get us even half of what we need.
- Confiscate the wealth of the Forbes 400, the richest people in the nation. That wouldn't do it either.
- Now for the worst option: Raise everyone's taxes. How much would we have to raise income taxes on every person in the United States just to eliminate this year's deficit? We'd have to almost double them! . . .
Before we can hope to eliminate our deficit, we have to overhaul the political system that created it. . . .
It's not just a matter of bringing in new people. . . . Take any good, decent citizen and put him in a limousine, hold the red lights for him, give him a private jet for personal use, supply him with free tickets to anyplace he wants to go, and he'll lose touch with reality in a hurry. . . .
- Restrict campaign contributions to $1,000--period. No more "soft money" contributions of up to $100,000 from corporate interests, labor unions and rich people. . . .
- Curb political action committees. In 1974 PACs contributed nearly $13 million to congressional candidates. . . . In 1990, PACs contributed over $150 million, an elevenfold jump. Who are we trying to kid here? We know what they're out to buy. . . .
- Change the way we hold elections. First, shorten the campaign season. Five months is long enough for anyone to make a case. Hold elections on both Saturday and Sunday so working people can go to the polls. Release no information until all polls are closed. Since the airwaves belong to the public, require equal free time for candidates for federal office. . . .
- Eliminate the Electoral College. . . .
CLEAN UP THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH
- Move immediately to sell off the 111 civilian aircraft maintained for discretionary use by federal government executives. . . .
- Eliminate the 89th wing of the Air Force. It exists solely to transport top officials around the country. . . . The vice president doesn't need an Air Force jet to go play golf. . . .
- Have the Cabinet members spend most of their time outside Washington answering tough questions and solving real problems. What good can the secretary of education do behind a desk while our schools
are falling apart? . . .
Drastically cut the White House and executive branch staffs.
CONGRESS Slash the current $2.8-billion budget that supports Congress, its agencies, gymnasiums, staffs, barber shops, free mail and all the other perks that have been built up over the years. Cut congressional staffs by 30% and other perks by 40%. . . .
Reform the retirement system. Up to 93 members of Congress are eligible for lifetime pension benefits exceeding $2 million apiece. . . .
Turn in excess campaign funds to the Treasury. . . .