Limit distraction, focus on state, federal finances

Right now our nation and state face similar dilemmas — spending needs to be drastically tightened and those budgets need to be sharply scrutinized.

America’s debt is out of control as we keep raising the debt ceiling without significant cuts to spending. Have we reached $20 trillion in debt yet? It’ll be here sooner than you know.

A recently released report on Alaska’s finances — which are often tied too close for comfort to the price of oil — should be a big wake-up call. The state would face a budget deficit of $920 million if spending next year matches this year. Alaska is anticipating a $410 million hole in this budget year despite the fact our lawmakers anticipated a surplus of $490 million.

Say what?

For too long this state and nation have been living with eyes wide shut on our financial problems.

In Alaska it is masked by high oil prices. In Washington, D.C. it is masked by every partisan debate that never gets solved.

But now, instead of focusing on these issues and making real progress, we are finding lots of things to distract us, namely this issue of gun control.

On the federal level, we expect much posturing and fighting over President Obama’s suggestions for curbing gun violence in America. While much of his plan can be done by executive order, other parts — like banning military assault style weapons — need Congressional action.

So both sides will come out with attacks on each other, the president and congress and all that will ultimately serve to distract from the nation’s most crippling ailment — the debt — when all that’s needed is a reading of the second amendment and the rights it guarantees.

On the state level we have seen the immediate distraction federal consideration of gun control has caused as well. Nikiski’s Mike Chenault has introduced a bill to bar enforcement of new gun laws in the state.

Even Chenault doubts the bill would be constitutional, yet we will have to endure the rhetoric from both parties while more important issues this state faces could sit on the back burner.

It is time to get a grip on this state’s finances and its budget. That starts by focusing on the issues that would help revenue — oil production and a gas pipeline — and curb spending. We hope the Legislature is not distracted by the federal debate on gun control.

To that end, we hope Washington, D.C. and Alaska’s Congressional delegation can focus on the financial issues and move on big measures to cut spending and reduce the debt.

The more issues we quarrel about, the more we make excuses for inaction on the nation’s greatest burden of all.

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Sat, 01/21/2017 - 23:42

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