When it comes to economic matters, such as taxes, who do you trust more, professional politicians who worry first and foremost about being reelected, or professional economists who worry exclusively about the economy?
Yeah, me too.
So we should all sit up and take notice that a big majority (87%) of economists polled by the National Assn. for Business Economists says higher taxes need to be part of any serious deficit-reducing plan.
The deficit is currently expected to top $1 trillion for the fourth straight year. The budget shortfall grew to epic proportions during the recession, when tax revenues plummeted as millions of people lost their jobs and corporate profits fell. And we still haven't dug ourselves out of the fiscal hole.
Economists of all stripes -- Republicans and Democrats -- have crunched the numbers, and most believe spending cuts alone won't fix things. According to the NABE poll, they believe less spending must be coupled with higher taxes to balance the federal checkbook.
Obviously no one wants to hear that. Who wants to pay more taxes?
But that knee-jerk reaction aside, who wants even more crowded schools, or less-accessible healthcare, or lower Social Security payments, or a host of other negatives that would result from Uncle Sam tightening his belt while doing nothing to fill his pockets?
And that's only if -- a big if -- Uncle Sam even bothers tightening his belt. As we've seen, politicians have a way of talking up spending cuts while somehow never quite reducing the amount spent on favorite projects.
Maybe it's time we listened to the pros for a change. This is, after all, what economists do for a living.