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I think most people who live in the real world (leaving out the gutless wonders who inhabit Washington, D.C.) will agree that if we ever hope to get our fiscal house in order some tough choices will have to be made. David Pauly has a piece at Bloomberg today with 9 suggestions:

1. Restore all income taxes to the pre-President George W. Bush level, not just those for people earning $250,000 or more.

2. Tax the banks $90 billion as proposed by President Barack Obama to pay for their bailout. Then break them up — making them small enough to fail and eliminating the need for more trillion-dollar rescues.

3. Eliminate income-tax deductions for property taxes and mortgage interest. Phase it in over five years so it hurts less.

4. Break Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into four mortgage- buying companies and get them off the federal dole.

5. Raise the retirement age for collecting full Social Security benefits to 72. Cut cost-of-living increases for beneficiaries to half the inflation rate for 10 years.

6. Raise the age for Medicare eligibility to 68.

Regarding numbers 5 and 6: Keep in mind that when Social Security was passed in 1936, life expectancy was 62. When Medicare was passed in 1965 it was 70. Today it’s 78.

7. End the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on the current schedules.

8. Kill farm subsidies.

9. Reduce government.
Pauly lists some of the overlapping agencies and departments which could eliminated:

The government has both the U.S. Postal Service and the Postal Regulatory Commission. Doesn’t competition from e-mail and FedEx Corp. keep postal rates in line?

[Does] the president really needs both a Council of Economic Advisers and a National Economic Council?

Government housing officials will have less to do if we cut Fannie and Freddie loose.

Whole agencies might be suspect. We, for instance, have a Selective Service System but no draft.

Certainly food for thought.

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