Overheard on CNN.com: Readers weigh in on U.S. financial future
President Obama is proposing $4 trillion in deficit cuts.
April 13th, 2011
05:47 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Readers weigh in on U.S. financial future

Comment of the day: "How does one get out of trillions in debt? It's not that he's not serious, it's that the task is impossible." -lena73

President Obama lays out long-term plan

After reaching a budget deal with Republicans last week, President Barack Obama outlined his plan for reducing long-term deficits and the national debt in a speech at The George Washington University on Wednesday. His plan will reduce the federal deficit by $4 trillion in 12 years.

CNN.com readers reacted to his plan:

bexers24 said, "You know, I think it's absolutely wonderful that he's tackling the taxes for the rich. I am one of those people who is poor and I struggle through life, living paycheck to paycheck. If I were one of the super rich, I would WANT to give back to those who need the help."

roaringtiger said, "As an independent, I feel this is a good plan This is the most balanced approach that won't put our country in a drawn out depression while making cuts AND some moderate tax increases. This is exactly what the Bipartisan committee proposed."

smartdem said, "This was simply brilliant. The president reminded the country of the history that lead to this deficit (namely George Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy), then explained why the Ryan plan would be disastrous to the country. He then laid down the gauntlet on increases on the wealthy. Put simply, you cannot ask 33 seniors to pay for each millionaire’s tax cut. Brilliant."

BubBee said, "He never mentioned curbing the costs of illegals, pay cuts of congress and elected officials or cuts in the size of government which has grown at a rapid pace. A 20 percent cut in all 3 would save us billions a year right now."

357fixer said, "Hi, I just graduated 5th grade and I need help on a math problem. If we run a $1.5 trillion deficit each year for the next 12 years, but only cut $4 trillion in spending in the same timeframe, then won't the national debt still increase by $10 trillion?"

JoeinUSA said, "Less talk, more action. I’m tired of hearing about plans to set up this committee and that committee.... proposals to do this and do that. As Larry the Cable Guy would say "Git r dun."

Big cuts for high speed

The high-speed rail system was one of the hardest hit federal programs last week–funding was reduced by more than $2.9 billion, basically leaving the project without any funding for 2011. Critics of the system say it's too expensive; supporters say it would create jobs and boost the economy and CNN.com reader comments largely fell into one of the two categories.

Thinkpad said, "I see the oil and auto lobby smiling all the way to the bank."

aorist said, "How about ANY rail service. Most of this country has no passenger rail service at all. I lived in Germany for a year when I was in the Army and was amazed by the efficiency of their passenger trains."

Digipixel said, "There is a old Chinese proverb that says the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The same can be said of a high-speed rail system. With gasoline approaching $4/gal, and predicted to go even high, would someone please, please, please save me from my own automobile!"

TK1957 said, "Compared to the parts of the world that have adopted high speed rail - we still have cheap gas! Kill these projects until we are ready (and until we can afford them)."

RalphinFL said, "The European bullet trains are highly subsidized and the only reason the Japanese trains show a profit is creative accounting by writing off the construction costs. We cannot afford another white elephant, even one that runs really fast."

xdougx said, "How about improving the low-speed rail first? Has anyone here ridden NJ Transit! The most god awful public transportation in the world!"

Are Americans willing to compromise?

The art of balancing the budget comes down to compromise, or, as President Obama words it "a shared responsibility to restore fiscal responsibility." In a CNN story that compares some of the more than $61 billion Republican proposed cuts with what was really cut, we received comments from CNN.com readers about the country's ability to compromise.

Guest said, "How about we get the red states to help out a little more? 21 of 22 McCain states (see TaxFoundation) take more from the federal government than they give. Why is it OK that New Jersey gets sixty cents back for every federal tax dollar contributed, and Alaska and Mississippi get back almost two dollars?'

Santex said, "I am willing to accept a $30 increase in my Medicare premiums and an additional two year freeze on SS benefits. What are you willing to put up? We are all in this together regardless of how we got here.” GQPublic responsed, "Until they control spending and get rid of waste, I am not willing to give another cent, period."

topherbc said, "As a part of the middle-class I don't mind some sacrifice for my country. But the wealthy, who have, in the last 30 years, disproportionately amassed so much of the wealth, should cough up said sacrifices: lump sum onetime tax, removed tax cuts, increased tax rates on future earnings."

FlyBD5 said, "Excuse me, but "raising the taxes on the rich" is a lie. What is being asked for is that the taxes on the rich be returned to the rates they were paying before Reagan slashed them and caused the country to enter the vicious circle spiral it is in."

Do you feel your views align with these commenters' thoughts? Post a comment below or sound off on video.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

soundoff (153 Responses)
  1. dkwtime

    When you all read Matt's comments do you get the sense that he's a spin doctor for the Tea Party. The Trickle Down theory started with Reagan and it didn't work then and it is not working now. For those of you who truly believe that your family will make over $250,000 per year, unless one or both of you is in the Executive Ranks or own a small business that is actually doing well, then you are delusional. In the Service Economy which the U.S. espouses to be, their simply isn't room for more than 5-10% of the people to make more than $250k per year. If you take Matt's approach to the extreme, if we're going to heartless and cruel enough to eliminate the social safety nets that exist, then let's just round them all up (including some of Matt's relatives) and give them North Dakota. Let them all fend for themselves and survive on their "own". Sounds absurd, doesn't it? Let's be clear the wealthiest 2% of Americans saw their wealth go up exponentially in the last decade, while the rest of us experienced stagnation or a decline. The worst hit were the poorest of the poor. The place to cut is the trillions spent on the military industrial complex. We're in two wars against countries that had little to nothing to do with Al Qaeda and everything to do with our thirst for oil. Yet, because so many Congressman and Senator pockets are filled with lobbyist money from oil companies will we see meaningful investment in non-hazardous, pollution free sources of energy? Probably not. If you haven't figured it out. Yes, I'm a liberal and proud of it. Obama, keep up the good work. You've had to start from a hole 10 feet deep, just keep looking and working towards lifting us all up (not just the uber-rich like the Republicans want to do).

    April 13, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Concerned

    Obama's National Debt Impact

    Amount of Debt at Obama Inauguration.................. $10,626,877,048,913
    Amount of Debt as of Feb 17, 2011.......................... $14,123,589,307,191
    Amount of Debt Obama Increased over 2 yrs………. $3,496,712,258,278

    Amount of Debt Bush Increased over 8 yrs................ $4,899,100,310,609

    Amount of Debt Obama would increase over 8 yrs.. $13,986,849,033,112

    Obama is even ignoring his own Deficit Commission's recommendations while the republicans are attempting to implement at least some of them, although insignificant cuts.

    Obama will do everything in his power to get us even further in debt until recovery is impossible.

    April 13, 2011 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • joyce

      did you consider the surplus that bush squandered from the clinton presidency? and yes, this president not only have to inherit bush's incompetence and mis management, he needs to run a government. you think bush's spending and wrong decisions ended when he's not president anymore? NO, we're paying for it until now and will be paying for it for a while. give credit where it's due. don't forget who made the decisions to put us into 2 wars and the nightmare to fix all the problems he caused. you need to do the math with all those in consideration.

      April 13, 2011 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. haroldspurplecrayon

    I'm soooooooo sick of ideology! SICK, SICK, SICK, SICK, SICK almost to death of it. Look, we've spent way too much as a nation, the boomers and my parent's generation are the culprits, and the younger generation needs to wake up and put our foot down to the fiscal destruction of our future. I would so love to hear our politicians speak like grown ups. I would like the GOP to abandon this beholden ideology of NO TAX CUTS! I would like the Democrats to abandon their support for subsidizing laziness. GOP ~ Refuses to even cut wasteful tax subsidies for ethanol because it would be a tax increase (there is a great article on The Economist about this)! It is a wasteful tax cut that benefits noone! Liberals ~ Look, I am sympathetic to the poor, but we are creating perpetual, generational poverty in this country by subsidizing laziness. Want to argue? Well myself and my wife work on the frontlines. We are educators who have taught in very impoverished districts. I've heard students call themselves check babies if they are born around the first or middle of the month, I have seen mothers encourage their 13 year old daughters to get pregnant dso they can draw a check on the grand baby, and I have seen plasma TVs and nice cars decking out the homes of various welfare recipients. This country is full of grown ups and rugged individuals who just simply want their hard work to provide some fiscal security for their families. We don't want millions or billions, we want our country back! We want to live in middle class homes, in middle class neighborhoods, and have nice, normal lives. American ideology is not about the betterment of America anymore! It is about how do I get rich as fast as possible and screw the government and little guy in the process. Wealth is good, but it is not the end all of life. It has however become the end all of American politics and business. I want the debt reduced, I want us to stop running deficits, I want a future that I don't have to be scared to dang death of! Grow up and compromise. America was founded on compromise, it was founded of the reason and forethought of the enlightenment! America was a great idea that has now been perverted all to Hell and back by greed. Greed on the top for excess wealth. Greed on the bottom for a life of laziness and sloth. The middle class working man is being squeezed to the brink from both ends. We need a Renaissance in this country of American values. We need the wealthy to take their civic responsibilities to America seriously again, and we need the capable on the bottom to start looking for work rather than excuses. I worry daily about the future of this country, and my wife and I have decided not to have have child because of the state of modern society. I swear we are devolving as a people. I've seen it. My only request for Washington, and I know the request is futile, but its to just grow up. Do what's best for the American people and not what's best for your political future! Give us some hope again!

    April 13, 2011 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama

      I second that motion.

      April 14, 2011 at 3:46 am | Report abuse |
  4. joyce

    republicans it's simple. strengthen the middle class and the country will be strong. all that is being asked here is to go back to the clinton years budget. 35% to 39% tax on the upper 1%. cut even slightly the military budget. it was less than 30% back then compared to about 42-45% now... i mean come on. do not cut the programs that mean a lot to us. the country consist of mostly middle class. that's the bottom line here. enough of party politics.

    April 13, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam

      The military is 19% of the budjet. Has been for a good while.

      April 14, 2011 at 1:38 am | Report abuse |
  5. KO

    What whiners Ryan and the Republicans are. What did they expect to hear from the President tonight? They want to keep playing fiscal fairy tales while reducing benefits for the poor and elderly, while reducing taxes for their rich contributers. Then they have the nerve to talk about "class warfare". They are committing warfare against the American middle class. I'm very proud of the President for calling them on it today–the American people have a clear choice–radical right wing extremism, or policies that will protect the middle class. I can't wait for 2012.

    April 13, 2011 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. IKHAN

    We spent $ 698 billion just in 2010 on conflicts & peace keeping, That is more than China,Russia,Britain & France combined.
    I would think that what we spend on more or less 700 military basis we maintain around the globe is not included in this figure.
    Add to it $ 6 billion that we pay to Israel every year and around a billion to Egypt.So who cares about the middle class or education or health care or welfare projects.

    April 14, 2011 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
  7. Michele

    I'm just happy that we're finally starting to address concrete iissues and offer solutions versus visionary statements. Still waiting for politicians to address illegal immigration, welfare fraud and pension reform, though.

    April 14, 2011 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
    • haroldspurplecrayon

      I'm completely on board! If we're gonna keep paying for a bloated military budget, can't we station soldiers on the border to stop illegal immigration. I used to work for a contractor that hired many illegals. Don;t get me wrong, they were great workers, but knowing they wouldn't being filing a tax return at the end of the year they all claimed like 15 kids. This meant their taxes were almost nothing. This is illegal tax fraud by an illegal citizen. How many middle class jobs would be available in areas like construction and services if illegals were refused employment. I mean I know this country was built by immigrants, but for the most part legal ones. We educate their children free, we take care of them in emergency rooms for free, and they don't pay their fair share of taxes. These are true statements! Not racist propaganda! I understand wanting a better life, but there are red blooded American citizens who right now are hoping for the same thing. I say the government should appropriate military funds to give to Immigration Services and start the deportations. Welfare fraud should also be combated just as vehemently. Get rid of the illegals and it should open up some positions for the welfare fraudsters. I, like many Americans, are sick of footing the bill for people who can and want pay for themselves. I'm not talking about the honest to goodness down on your luck poor, but the freeloaders have to be stopped. This should go for the ones at the top too! Make corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share. While we're at it. I'm also sick of having to pay for repeat criminal offenders, murderers, rapists, etc. These people are not contributing to society except by taking from others. I think we should bring back public executions and let these offenders see what is going to happen to them if they get caught again, and again, and again........ I don't feel like I should have to pay for these delinquents to get fed Cheetos and Coke for the remainder of their lives.

      April 14, 2011 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
  8. Brian in Michigan

    My wife and I earn better than 85% of the population, yet the Republican plan will hurt us a lot more than help. It will seriously postpone retirement for us, after the whole stock market crash postponed it in the first place. This plan will absolutely kill us financially. I can't imagine what it will do to others who earn less.

    I think we need to go back to the tax structure that built this great economy of ours: before Reagan. Back to the Golden Age of Capitalism when tax rates were much higher and the nation was much stronger.

    April 14, 2011 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |
    • sam

      There is ONLY one plan that will work. Pay down the deficit and don't spend more than you take in (PERIOD)

      April 14, 2011 at 1:47 am | Report abuse |
  9. edvhou812

    357fixer said it all.

    April 14, 2011 at 1:25 am | Report abuse |
  10. bobby

    This country doesn't have the guts decrease spending. Americans would rather use up whatever is left of the country and spit it out. Americans are just that, lazy and would rather keep borrowing to finance their endless spending. Every cut that is proposed you will have a herd of people claiming their being victimized. So I say just suck out whatever is left of the country and by 2020 there won't be much left. Good luck, Americans your chance is evaporating fast. There are other countries that will take your spot as you wither away.

    April 14, 2011 at 1:34 am | Report abuse |
  11. Richardson

    The speech by the President today was awful. It must had put Joe Biden to bed early. I mean, come on! Taxing the damn rich and cutting social programs back to the point of emotional trauma for some people? That's not logical. That's naive thinking on his part. The people that are going to be sweep under the rug finally if this budget get's pass through congress will be the poor, the elderly, and those in the disable community with no education. They will NOT be able to support themselves with social security benefits getting slashed, medicare being cut, while facing skyrocketing living expenditures due to growing inflation and income inequality being thrown across the board. Many will be thrown into the streets with society treating them like animals. It's disgusting! I don't know where Obama's brains were at when he made that speech to America on Wednesday afternoon. Liberals should just reject his proposal in the congress and threaten him to withhold any support for his 2012 reelection campaign unless he veers to the left finally and make the entire right quiver to the point of sheer madness. We need a people's president, not an elitist that stands up for Corporate America.

    This country has to adopt some form of socialism or go bust financially as a result. The tax breaks to the wealthy is not acceptable when over half of this country is out of work and couldn't support th

    April 14, 2011 at 1:46 am | Report abuse |
  12. gironda43

    I would like to see the US House of Representatives and Senate – not their staffs – vote to freeze their salaries for five years. Everyone should have to sacrifice.

    April 14, 2011 at 1:57 am | Report abuse |
  13. Whatever Works

    Maybe the CNN talking heads should stop mentioning that a 1% increase in taxes for those over 250k would 'only' add up to 115 billion dollars and start saying that a 10% increase would equal 1 trillion dollars... That's a pretty big dent right there.

    35-39% of income over 250k does not sound so outrageous, considering that 50 years ago the tax rate was more than 70%!

    It's shameful to ask grandmothers to pay for tax cuts that just have not created the jobs they were supposed to be creating. "Job Creators"? More like "wealth Hoarders" to me... This debate is shamefully cold blooded on the part of those advocating for reducing the deficit without increasing taxes. Shame, shame, shame.

    April 14, 2011 at 4:43 am | Report abuse |
  14. Joey

    Nobody wants to admit the truth.
    All humans are selfish. At the final moment of a transaction, each person always acts in his own best interest.
    I will not receive agreement from many here, and I will lose even more new friends because I am honest.
    Human beings are not going to change their natural survival instinct because of professional and personal advocacy of redistribution of wealth: humans would perish if they did.

    April 14, 2011 at 5:58 am | Report abuse |
  15. Tony the Prophet

    Lets get past the ideology of debts, budgets, and governments, and lets talk about when America will collapse in 2013 due to the federal deficit , where it can cannot sustain and maintain the Country . Poverty will be massive, unemployment, social decay, anxiety, insecurity, yes we are doomed to fail. History thought us these lessons, I am quoting the Roman Empire on of the most organized Government ever existed. Remember America tax system is based on the Roman system, therefore it too is bound to fail Americans are in denial beyond comprehension and scholars are even worse.

    April 14, 2011 at 7:19 am | Report abuse |
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