Deficit cutting vs. social spending: Finding a balance

Liz Herman Mar 12, 2012

Kai Ryssdal: Elections are, in a perfect world, about what the people want. The world is rarely perfect, though, which is why you don’t often hear politicians asking people what they want. As part of our election coverage this week, we’ve done some asking around about what’s really on people’s minds — what they want out of this election.

Today, Liz Herman. She’s a community banker outside Philadelphia.

Liz Herman: Here’s what’s important to me this election: We need to figure out the right balance between what we spend on social services and what we need to do to bring down the budget deficit.

On one hand, social services are important. I’m a community banker, and I’ve seen the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots” increase with each passing year. As a member of several nonprofit organizations, I find it tragic that the very individuals who need social services the most are the first casualties of local, state, and federal budget cuts. It hurts not just individuals, but society as well. The loss of those services affects the quality of life for all of us.

But we’ve got to do something to rein in that federal budget deficit. My fear is that all of us baby boomers who haven’t saved sufficiently for our retirement will continue to ask Peter’s grandson’s to pay for Peter’s needs today. I worry we’re eroding our country’s ability to ensure a better life for our children. A gaping budget hole is not the type of legacy I want to leave my family.

We need to decide now on a plan to start paying down this debt. But let’s make it a plan that involves appropriate contributions from everyone. A simpler tax code for both corporations and individuals would be a great start!

Another way to reduce the deficit is to grow the economy. I am concerned that government regulation and unnecessary oversight are hurting economic growth, not helping it.

Cutting the deficit alone will not make us a stronger nation. Nor will unchecked spending on social services. But it can’t be an either/or proposition.

I believe that the path to good government is discussion and compromise, not inflexible adherence to ideologies. And I bet there are many Americans who believe the same thing. We all need to get out and vote and make our voices heard!

Ryssdal: Liz Herman manages a community bank branch in East Greenville, Penn. Take a second and tell us what’s important to you this election year. Write to us.

Liz Merman is a source with the Public Insight Network.

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