BUSINESS

A Modest Proposal to Tackle the Deficit

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Politics in the U.S. is getting uglier by the day, which is a shame, because our problems aren't going away. In fact, any problem that involves interest will grow worse as long as we fail to address it. Such is the case with our national debt -- an " unprecedented" issue that is actually quite precedented: Powerful empires that overspent have historically collapsed and "American Exceptionalism" won't save us from the laws of mathematics.

Consider the debate surrounding the "Buffett rule."

Buffett
The debate surrounding the Buffett rule has cost the U.S. 75 times more in borrowing than the law would generate in taxes (in comparable periods).

The U.S. has borrowed $956 billion while Democrats and Republicans have debated the Buffett rule -- if the rule is enacted into law, it would generate roughly $16 billion of tax revenue per year (under the rosiest assumptions). Without passing judgment on the rule (or the outcome), the process is clearly broken.

It's hard to watch all of this electioneering and remain positive about America's future, but pessimism isn't going to solve the problem. Nor will unfettered optimism.

Some people, when confronted with the topic of deficit spending, happily (and condescendingly) proclaim that the world hasn't ended yet. This reminds me of an old smoker cackling that he never got cancer. A person may die before his bad habits catch up with him, but a country has the ability to live indefinitely, provided that we keep it in good shape.

To that end, I'd like to put forth some ideas on how to tackle debt, deficits and democratic demagoguery. Some of you may see through these ideas like cellophane. If so, good! Please amend or improve however you see fit. The goal isn't necessarily to create workable policy (if such a thing still exists), but to start thinking of new ways to solve old problems. Maybe one day we'll get a Congress willing to listen to constituents.

End Student Loans

America's biggest " budget busters " are essentially tied to an aging population in failing health. This is a tough pill to swallow for the nation's youth: The income divide between young and old is growing appreciably wider. And while millennials are struggling to get their own life started -- paying off student loans, getting a decent job, getting married, buying a house and starting a family -- the elder generations are making greater demands on their kids and grandkids.

Some call this generational warfare -- others might call it a Ponzi scheme of sorts. But if we're committed to having a social safety net, then America needs its working generations (youth) to be equipped with the best skills and education possible to compete in a global marketplace. Only then can we generate the tax revenue to keep the system in place.