It hit me while watching the latest State of the Union speech that the state of the union is, really, kind of blah.
We’re on track to have a federal budget deficit of about $900 billion.
If we were all emotionally and philosophically OK with the idea of raising taxes (and I know, let’s face it: a lot of the readers here are absolutely not), there’s still the matter that it’s hard to squeeze blood from a broke turnip.
Maybe, say, we could take a deep breath and (gasp!) raises taxes on the middle class. Maybe 50 million workers could pay $1,000 more in taxes per year without that causing the economy to implode. That would raise $50 billion in new revenue.
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Maybe there are 100,000 pretty rich people that could chip in, say, $1 million each, and add another $100 billion, plus 100 super-rich people who could contribute $100 million each and add $10 billion.
Maybe corporations could scrape up $50 billion. So, that would be a total of $210 billion in new revenue.
Maybe we could ignore the screams of outrage and hack $75 billion each out of Defense, Medicare and Medicaid.
I think all of that would narrow the deficit to … about $465 billion. Which is, still, a pretty big number.
Say we simply returned to fairly normal economic growth. Maybe that could cut the deficit another $100 billion, to, maybe $365 billion.
How do we close that remaining giant gap? What’s missing?
I think the answer is that the country has to give birth to a whole new major sector of the economy.
In the 1990s, the budget deficit narrowed partly because the end of the Cold War helped the United States slash military spending and partly because the rise of the Internet created a giant new source of jobs and economic vitality.