This is the time of year for resolutions. Health-related and money-related resolutions top the list each year. The sad part is most will be broken within a few weeks. According to surveys, more than 80 percent of New Year's resolutions will be broken by Valentine's Day.
However, there's now research data on how much or how little these resolutions actually improve lives. In other words, we may fall short of our goals but are we better people for having tried?
I would suggest that we are. I would also suggest that we need to make some resolutions as a country. Imagine the power of resolve we could put behind some common goals of pulling this country out of the ditch.
At the top of the list is getting fiscally fit for 2011. We simply must stop spending more than we have. On a personal level we understand that. Family budgeting is at or near the top of most Americans' resolution list. The problem is, on a national level, there are just too many people trying to get a piece of that pie. That's why it's imperative that we forcibly keep Congress's fingers out of it with a balanced budget amendment.
A balanced budget amendment has been tried before and failed. However, never before in our nation's history have so many people been acutely aware of our mounting deficits and debt. According to a CNN/Opinion Research poll taken just a few days ago, 68 percent of Americans say they worry a lot about our national deficit. Only 7 percent said they didn't worry at all about it.
But leave it to CNN to spin their own poll numbers. They said that while more than two-thirds of the country is very worried about the deficit, reducing it isn't their top priority. In that same survey 57 percent opposed increasing the deficit to pay for tax changes. CNN, naturally, took that to mean that people weren't willing to have their taxes raised to reduce the deficit but that's not what the people were saying. The American people finally understand that raising taxes doesn't reduce the deficit. Cutting spending does.
It's really no different than our own personal budgets. How many of you fashion your budgets based on an assumption that you might come into more money this year? No, we base our budgets on how much money we have coming in right now.
The thing is if we actually reduced taxes we would see more revenue. This is counter-intuitive to many liberals but it's been proven right every time it's been tried. Obama and the Democrats even admitted it recently during the fight over the Bush tax cuts. They were unanimous in their belief that raising taxes on the middle class would hurt the economy. The only problem is they weren't able to cast aside their class warfare long enough to apply it to every taxpayer. There's something in liberal DNA that forces them to jettison logic when the discussion turns to the rich.
Common sense would tell you that if raising taxes on the middle class is bad for the economy then raising taxes on anyone is bad for the economy.
It's doubtful if any more tax cuts are on the horizon but spending cuts are certainly doable. If we simply adopted the budget of 2004 this year we would immediately see a surplus. As it is, we're looking at a $1.3 trillion deficit. It's simply a matter of resolve.
Sure, like personal resolutions, we may fall short of our goals but we'll be a better country for at least having tried.
Phil Valentine is an author and syndicated radio talk show host. His website is PhilValentine.com