Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Problem with Priorities

Should “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” be repealed? Yes.

Is repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” more important than setting the US Government’s 2011 budget, or providing clarity on 2011 income tax brackets and rates? Absolutely not.

The fact that our legislators are spending valuable time discussing, debating and funding research into “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, food safety, nuclear weapon treaties, or providing child immigrants an automatic path to citizenship, in December 2010, is a total joke and is completely irresponsible.

These issues all deserve debate and votes, but not during a lame duck session, and certainly not before the Government has finalized a budget or income tax rates that go into effect in less than 30 days.

Guess how many members of our armed forces were discharged due to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2009….428, or 0.04% of soldiers on active duty at the time.

While 428 is the lowest since at least 1997, and significantly lower than the peak of 1,227 in 2001, the fact remains that only 13,000 or so Americans have been discharged from the military due to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” since its inception 17 years ago. While that’s 13,000 too many, it’s still just 0.004% of all Americans.

While this debate rages on and studies and surveys are funded and generate headlines, the US Government still does not have a budget for 2011, and the 144 million individuals that filed tax returns in 2009 still don’t know what their tax rates will be in 30 days.

So, for those keeping score at home, 100% of Americans are impacted by the US budget, at least 50% of Americans (significantly more if you include the tax filer’s dependents) are impacted by income tax rates, and 0.004% of Americans are impacted by “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. If you were a politician in Washington, which issues would you prioritize?

Too many of our elected representatives believe it’s more important to debate and pontificate about issues that affects 0.004% of Americans, rather than focus on the issues that affect all Americans (high unemployment, weak economic recovery, exploding deficits and spending, etc., etc.), none of which can be solved without first setting a budget and income tax levels.

The debate and legislative effort required to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, while admirable, can wait.


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