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BLOG BY MARK SUSSMAN A MODEST ALTERNATE PROPOSAL TO RECTIFY AMERICAS DEBT ABSTRACT

THIS PROPOSAL OFFERS AN ALTERNATE APPROACH TO THAT RECENTLY PASSED AS AN ADJUNCT TO RAISING AMERICAS DEBT LIMIT. THE APPROACH RECOGNIZES THE OBVIOUS RECENT DIFFICULTY OF OUR LEGISLATORS OVERCOMING FUNDAMENTALLY DIFFERENT ECONOMIC VIEWS BETWEEN THE 2 MAJOR POLITICAL PARTIES ON THIS DIFFICULT ISSUE. IT SEEKS TO PLACE SOME RESPONSIBILITY BACK UPON THE CITIZENRY AND SIMULTANEOUSLY TO MAKE THE CONGRESS MORE ACCOUNTABLE THROUGH ENHANCED TRANSPARENCY OF THE BUDGET LEGISLATION.
AS RONALD REAGAN SAID: THERE ARE NO EASY ANSWERS BUT THERE ARE SIMPLE ANSWERS. HERES A PROPOSAL THAT TRIES TO LIVE UP TO THAT IDEAL. IT IS TIED TO A LEGISLATIVE EFFORT THAT RECONCILES DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE 2 PARTIES AND BETWEEN THE HOUSE & SENATE. IN SUM, THE TOTAL CONGRESS GOES ON RECORD TO THEIR CONSTITUENTS, DURING A MANDATED AND CLOCK-DRIVEN PROCESS, TO SUMMARIZE, ANNUALLY, A TWO-TIER AND TOTAL RECAP OF THE NATIONS REVENUES, SPENDING AND OVERALL DEBT (INCLUDING THE UNFUNDED LIABILITIES).

A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT APPROACH TO AMERICAS DEBT PROBLEM

ELEMENTS OF THE DEBT PROBLEM OUR GROWING DEBT IS AN ISSUE THAT HAS NOW BEEN IGNORED FOR AT LEAST 3 DECADES. VERY RECENTLY, ON AUGUST 5th, THE FINANCIAL RATING OF THE UNITED STATES WAS REDUCED FROM AAA TO AA+ - - FOR THE FIRST TIME IN AMERICAN HISTORY. IT WAS S&Ps WAY OF FLASHING A RED LIGHT TO INDICATE THE RATING SERVICE PERCEIVES LESS CONFIDENCE IN HOW AMERICAS GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN MANAGING ITS FINANCES. THIS WAS NOT A SHOCKING NEW REVELATION, HAVING BEEN PRECEDED BY MANY WEEKS OF CONGRESSIONAL THE RATING DOWNGRADE: WRANGLING OVER RAISING OUR DEBT LIMIT. UNFORTUNATELY, THE LAST MINUTE DECISION WRONG-HEADED MOVE? DECLINED TO TAKE ANY SIGNIFICANT STEP TOWARD OR CLOSING THE SHARPLY GROWING DEBT THAT JUST DOING THEIR JOB? AMERICA OWES ITS CREDITORS, BOTH FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC.

A MODEST ALTERNATIVE PROPOSAL [ MAP ] SEVERAL SOLUTIONS TOWARD REDUCING AMERICAS GROWING DEBT HAVE BEEN PROPOSED. PARTIAL VERSIONS OF THEM HAVE BEEN INCLUDED IN THE FINAL , AUG 5th CONGRESSIONAL DEAL THAT WAS REACHED, INCLUDING: SOME VERY MODEST SPENDING CUTS, TO A BUDGET BASELINE THAT IS ALREADY INCREASING FROM YEAR TO YEAR. A SUPER COMMISSION OF 6 DEMOCRATS AND 6 REPUBLICANS TO PUT TOGETHER RECOMMENDATIONS FOR A FURTHER MODEST SPENDING CUT . CONGRESS HAS COMMITTED ITSELF TO AN UP OR DOWN VOTE ON SUBMITTING A BALANCED BUDGET AMENDMENT TO THE STATES F OR RATIFICATION AS A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. THERE IS NO GUARANTEE OF PASSAGE OF SUCH A BILL THROUGH THE CONGRESS OR SUBSEQUENTLY BY THE STATES.

THIS MAP IS A STEP TOWARD RESPONSIBILITY ON THE PART OF THE CITIZENS AND ACCOUNTABILITY ON THE PART OF OUR CONGRESS.

A MODEST ALTERNATIVE
BUT THESE FOLLOW-ON ACTIONS COULD TAKE A LONG TIME AND PERHAPS NEVER COME TO FRUITION, BECAUSE THE BASIC DEBT ISSUE ITSELF HAS STRONGLY DIVIDED SUPPORT ACROSS THE NATION.
THUS THE CONGRESS REFLECTS THAT DIVISION AND HAS SIMILAR DIFFICULTY REACHING A DETAILED DECISION. IT THEREFORE HAS HANDED THE HOT POTATO TO OTHERS TO ACTUALLY WORK OUT THE SPECIFIC CUTS THAT MUST BE ACHIEVED.

PROPOSAL

T H U S , R E L AT I V E T O T H E D E P T H OF THE PROBLEM, THE CURRENT L E G I S L AT I V E O U T P U T I S A M O D E S T S T E P. SO ID LIKE TO PRESENT A

MAP :

IT ESSENTIALLY LAYS OUT A SHORT LEGISLATIVE BILL DESIGNED TO HELP OUR CITIZENS GET BACK INTO SOME CONTROL OF THE BUDGET PROCESS. IT RELIES ON A 3-PAGE MANDATED TEMPLATE:

THE MAP PROPOSAL IN A NUTSHELL THE (MAP) PROPOSAL IS DIFFERENT FROM THE PRECEDING SOLUTION PLANS BECAUSE IT: i. ACKNOWLEDGES THAT CONGRESS AND THE NATION ARE DEEPLY DIVIDED OVER HOW TO CORRECT OUR DEBT PROBLEM.

ii.

FACTORS IN THE NEED FOR THE AMERICAN ELECTORATE TO UNDERSTAND AND CONTRIBUTE TO A DEBT REDUCTION CONSENSUS, AND,

iii. INCLUDES ADDRESSING THE IMPACT OF THE NATIONS MUCH LARGER (BY A FACTOR OF ABOUT FOUR) UNFUNDED LIABILITIES. THESE LIABILITIES ARE ALSO OBLIGATIONS FOR PAYMENT IN FUTURE YEARS BY THE GOVERNMENT, BUT ARE NOT TYPICALLY INCLUDED IN THE $15 TRILLION DEBT NUMBER THAT IS USUALLY UNDER DISCUSSION.

THE MAP PROPOSAL IN A NUTSHELL

THE MAP PLAN COMBINES:


i. MORE TRANSPARENCY OF THE ISSUES FOR CLEARER VOTER EVALUATION, WITH ii. A MANDATED PLAN SUBMITTED BY BOTH MAJOR AMERICAN POLITICAL PARTIES REPRESENTED IN OUR CONGRESS, AND, iii. A MANDATED INTEGRATED, SINGLE, COMMON BUDGET PLAN DEVELOPED JOINTLY BY THE 2 PARTIES AND VOTED UPON BY THE WHOLE CONGRESS. THE TOTAL PROCESS HAS A CLOCK RUNNING AGAINST WHICH THE PROCESS STEPS MUST BE COMPLETED IN FULL VIEW OF THE ELECTORATE AND THE AMERICAN PUBLIC.

CONGRESS

DEMOCRATS

GOP

CITIZENS

NOTE:

RSD = REVENUES / SPENDING / DEBT

RSD PROCESS FLOW

Leader:

THE MAP PROPOSAL IN A NUTSHELL

A 1000 MAXIMUM WORD LEGISLATION IS PASSED EACH YEAR WITH THE FOLLOWING PARTICULARS:

STEP #1A : CONGRESSIONAL DEMS & GOP (HOUSE & SENATE) EACH AGREE TO PUT THEIR ALTERNATIVE PROPOSALS IN WRITING WITH A 3 PAGE (81/2 x 11) QUANTITATIVE SUMMARY** , OF REVENUES, SPENDING, AND A 5 YEAR NATIONAL DEBT (RSD) PROJECTION SHOWN AGAINST A 50 YEAR NATIONAL AVERAGE OF DEBT TO GDP. THIS SUMMARY IS CALLED THE RSD FORM. A MANDATED TEMPLATE** FOR EACH OF THE 3 PAGES IS TO BE PART OF THE LEGISLATION, AND AN EXAMPLE OF EACH PAGE IS GIVEN BELOW.
STEP #1B: OF COURSE, CONGRESS CAN MAINTAIN THE MORE DETAILED BUDGET ACCOUNTING BOOKS TRADITIONALLY USED. BUT IF A DISCREPANCY BETWEEN THESE TRADITIONAL BOOKS ARISES IN ANY OF THE RSD TOTALS, THE RSD FORM TOTALS WILL PREVAIL IN THE FINAL BUDGET LEGISLATION AND APPROPRIATIONS. STEP #2: THE TWO SUMMARIES ARE PUBLISHED AND ON THE OFFICIAL DAY #1 OF THE PROCESS EVERY CONGRESSMAN & SENATOR SENDS A COPY OF (BOTH THE DEM & GOP VERSIONS ) TO THEIR CONSTITUENTS AND TO THE MEDIA. ADDITIONALLY, EACH OF THE 2 PACKAGES WILL BE SCORED BY THE CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE FOR TOTALS OF REVENUES, SPENDING AND DEBT PROJECTION. contd next 4 pages

THE MAP PROPOSAL IN A NUTSHELL

A 1000 MAXIMUM WORD LEGISLATION IS PASSED EACH YEAR WITH THE FOLLOWING PARTICULARS:

STEP #3: ALL CITIZENS ARE REQUESTED TO LET THEIR REPRESENTATIVE AND SENATORS KNOW THEIR THOUGHTS BY DAY #14. STEP #4: APPROPRIATE CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES DELIBERATE WITH THE LEGISLATION-STIPULATED OBJECTIVE OF REACHING AGREEMENT ON A COMMON REVENUESPENDING-DEBT SUMMARY OF THE INTITALLY SEPARATE 3 PAGE RSD FORMS**. THE COMMON SUMMARY IS PUBLISHED TO CONSTITUENTS AND MEDIA AND ON DAY #59. PEOPLE ARE AGAIN BY DAY #73. A SENATE AND HOUSE BY-NAME, PUBLIC, UP OR DOWN VOTE ON THE RSD PACKAGE IS TO BE COMPLETED BY DAY #80 OF THE PROCESS.
STEP #5: ON DAY #82, EACH CONGRESSMAN & SENATOR WILL SEND HIS CONSTITUENTS A STATEMENT OF HIS VOTE AND A RATIONALE FOR IT.

** THE RSD 3-PAGE FORM TEMPLATE IS GIVEN AS FIGURES #1, #2 and #3 IN THIS ARTICLE.

THE REVENUES / SPENDING / DEBT

TEMPLATE

THIS 3 PAGE SUMMARY FOLLOWS THE MANDATED FORMAT THROUGHOUT THE RSD PROCESS. EACH PAGE EVOLVES FROM: 1. TWO SEPARATE PARTY-SUBMITTED SUMMARIES THE RSD-BLU (DEM) AND RSD-RED (GOP) VERSIONS 2. TO A HOUSE & SENATE JOINT VERSION, NOW ALSO ACCEPTED BY BOTH PARTIES THE RSD-RWB VERSION EACH VERSION USES THE SAME TEMPLATE SUMMARY, ALTHOUGH THE $ VALUES CAN CHANGE UNTIL THE FINAL, COMMON, INTEGRATED VERSION IS PRODUCED. THEREAFTER, THESE VALUES ARE FINAL AND BINDING ON ALL OTHER BUDGET DOCUMENTS AND LEGISLATIVE ACTIONS.

RSD TEMPLATE CHART #1 - REVENUES

RSD TEMPLATE CHART #2 - SPENDING

RSD TEMPLATE CHART #3 - DEBT

SO WHY WOULD THIS MAP SUCCEED WHILE OTHER ATTEMPTS HAVE FAILED ?
I THINK FOR THESE REASONS:

IT ADDS CITIZEN DIRECT OVERSIGHT TO A DIFFICULT ISSUE ( NOT EXACTLY A REVOLUTIONARY THOUGHT ).
IT GIVES CONGRESS A STRONGER SENSE OF WHAT THE PEOPLE WANT - - IN WRITING FROM CONSTITUENTS.

IT PUTS EVERY LEGISLATOR ON DISPLAY TO EVERY CITIZEN DURING THE PROCESS.


IT GIVES EVERYONE MORE CONFIDENCE IN A FAIR , ORDERLY, UNDERSTANDABLE AND RESPONSIVE GOVERNMENT.

THE END
ACTUALLY, ITS NOT THE END - - YOUR VOICE IS IMPORTANT TO OUR NATION. CITIZEN INTEREST, DIALOG AND DATA ARE CRITICAL TO GOOD CIVIC OUTCOMES. AND THAT INCLUDES OUTCOMES WHICH SIMPLY ASSURE PROPER CONDITIONS FOR THE FREE MARKET TO WORK.