My daughter, who as of this writing is one week away from taking her road test, broached the subject of our family getting a third car.
When I asked her how we would pay for it, she shrugged and said, “Take out a loan.”
Obviously, she still has a few things to learn about cash flow, budgeting and how to make both co-exist in economic harmony.
In addition to my offspring, perhaps we should also encourage Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama to sit in on a few CPE classes on the essentials of budgeting and spending.
Recently, the charismatic contender proposed a $210 billion spending plan to create jobs in the construction and environmental industries as part of a 10-year plan.
The decade strategy would actually entail two programs — one to create some 5 million “green collar” jobs that would work to develop more “environmentally friendly” energy sources.
The second would earmark $60 billion toward a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank to rebuild, well, as the name implies, the nation’s crumbling infrastructure — highways, bridges, airports, etc.
To be sure, a laudable proposal.
I doubt many would argue the need to develop alternative energy, nor are there many people who didn’t wonder at least once when driving over a long suspension bridge when it was last inspected or whether it’s long overdue for repairs.
It’s the next part where Mr. Obama loses me.
He told a recent interviewer that his agenda “is paid for.”
He said that the funding for his ambitious plan stems from, in order: ending the Iraq war, cutting tax breaks for corporations, taxing carbon pollution and raising taxes on high income earners.
That’s akin to handing the ball to a pitcher and telling him all he has to do is get the next 27 batters out and he’ll have recorded a perfect game.
Obama has often been criticized for being all sizzle and little steak. Unfortunately this is one of those times where there’s “no there, there.”
Or at least very little.
I’ll leave the logistics for troop withdrawal in Iraq to more experienced military minds, but it’s safe to say that should he be elected, Obama’s first 100 days in office will not see an end to the conflict.
His tax proposals are another matter.
Instead of putting forth the shopworn mantras like “taxing the rich,” my advice would be to begin with that pesky Alternative Minimum Tax, because like a bald tire, the program, which now affects as many as 21 million taxpayers, cannot endure any more temporary patches.
Taxing carbon pollution sounds a whole lot like a national expansion of New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s “congestion pricing” proposal for Manhattan that seeks to alleviate vehicular traffic with Tony Soprano-like tariffs. I’m sure Hizzoner would be glad to share the, ahem, emotional responses he’s received over that.
President Obama would also have to contend with the trillions in unfunded liabilities known as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid that are speeding along like an Amtrak train with failing brakes.
Listen, I’m all for job creation, ending wars and zero dependence on foreign oil.
But all those initiatives carry a price tag and Barack’s payment plan appears far short of coupons.
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