A radically different approach to the spending cuts: A collaborative approach, a liberal approach
24 October 2010 2 Comments
There is a contradiction in the Conservative approach. On one hand we have Dave telling us that it is our country and we need to have more of a say in how it operates. On the other we have George telling us what a mess our finances are in and that he needs to make some difficult decisions on our behalf. Imagine how different things may have looked if the government had taken Dave’s approach to the spending cuts.
In America they did just that and it serves as an example to us as opposed to this tired paternalistic Tory approach. In the USA, 3,500 Americans came together across 57 cities to discuss the nation’s finances in a day long Town Meeting. Liberals and conservatives, young and old, rich and poor, people of all races and ethnicities sat together in authentic conversation.
They used satellite and webcast link-ups connected cities across the country to create a truly nationwide conversation. Participants were given the opportunity to discuss their greatest hopes for the future and their concerns about the economic recovery process. They were presented with 42 options developed along with the Our Budget, Our Economy National Advisory Committee. In addition to expressing preferences among the options, they were able to suggest new additional options.
The results looked something like this:
- 85% of participants expressed support for reducing defence spending by at least 5% (which included 51% of participants who expressed support for a 15% cut)
- 68% of participants expressed support for reducing all other Non-Defense spending by at least 5%
- 62% of participants expressed support for reducing health care spending by at least 5%.
- No options for reducing Social Security benefits received a majority of support.
- 60% of participants expressed support for raising the cap on payroll taxes to 90%
- 54% of participants expressed support for raising income taxes on those earning more than $1 million by five percent
- 52% of participants expressed support for raising personal tax rates for the top two income brackets by at least 10%
- 54% of participants expressed support for establishing a carbon tax
- 50% of participants supported the establishment of a securities-transaction tax
- No options for reducing deductions and credits received majority support
- Participants were evenly divided about options presented to reform the tax code
The results were submitted to the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform for its public meeting on Wednesday, June 30, 2010.
This is an excellent model for government collaboration with citizens. Giving power to the people, allowing people to have a real say, influencing the government that they essentially own. It is a world away from the approach taken by George. When it comes to difficult decisions, maybe he needs to think about letting go of the old tory ways and embrace the ‘new politics’?