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Balancing Taxes and Spending

Sources of Federal Revenue

Chapter 3: A Serious Compromise

How to Increase Revenue

Reduce Expenses

Chapter 4: The Next Steps: A Summary and Conclusion

For the real Lenny and Helene

Chapter 1

A Modest Proposal

'Tis a melancholy object indeed, the financial news. Newspapers, television pundits, and the Internet alike are spewing out dire statistics about the massive burden that retiring and soon-to-be-retiring Baby Boomers are imposing on the nation's economy. With their ceaseless demands for everything from knee replacements and hair transplants to artificial hearts and Viagra, their health care costs alone are astronomical and growing exponentially. At the same time, the incessant whining of the poor for food, shelter, education, and other such extravagances has raised the decibel level so high that it's scarcely possible to enjoy a polo match or savor a glass of Château Lafite in peace.

Whether the staunchest conservative or the most weak-kneed liberal, no one can deny that this country's social spending is on a slippery slope. These two elements of society, the elderly and the poor, are carving a hole in America's wallet. Soaring energy and food prices are already cutting into our standard of living—how can we also fund the extravagant lifestyles of the elderly and the poor?

The trajectory we are on is unsustainable; the crisis is practically upon us. The choices we make today will decide our future. Will America stand proud and prosperous, with the Stars and Stripes in one hand and a Second Amendment-protected machine gun in the other, feared and envied throughout the world? Or will it slink dejected into a dismal tomorrow, one dirty hand outstretched palm up, pleading for the scraps more prosperous nations might deign to toss its way?

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