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  • Prose and Purpose

    After 25 years on the job, a former provost examines the world on campus and in higher ed.

Failure
November 27, 2011 - 5:22pm

The news from the congressional supercommittee was not surprising. No budget deal – meaning we now will have an automatic triggering of across-the-board budget reductions. What a bad decision by our Congressional leaders, what a bad impact for our economy, and what a failure to read the will of the public.  

How did we get here? Clearly, too many lines in the sand. A reluctance to cut spending coupled with an equally forceful reluctance to increase any tax rates. Leadership by following a "my way or the highway philosophy." There are without question some areas in social services, health, and defense where spending reductions should be very measured. There are also many tax rates that should under no conditions be increased. But there is also without question justification for some spending cuts and justifications for some tax increases (or loop-hole decreases). 

But where we are now, with across-the-board adjustments the default position, is on the verge of doings greater harm to the economy.  With the triggering of across-the-board cuts, spending in areas such as health, research, some kinds of student aid, and even defense all are about to be reduced. Who loses by doing this, other than those directly involved in these industries? We all do given the critical nature, the future consequences, and huge impact of the industries involved. And are we really sure that this budget reduction number even makes sense for the economy or is it another case of a guesstimate by Congress, which can now lead to another line in the sand?  

Most of us know that compromise is possible if politics move to the sideline and national interest moves to the forefront. Most of us also know that the best interests of our economy and our country require compromise. Will our nation's leaders jeopardize our best interests by cutting without thinking or will our leaders rise to the occasion? We don't need or want more political rhetoric. Instead, we need thoughtful solutions to cut the deficit brought about by thoughtful elected officials. For the current crisis, the last best time is clearly now.

 

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