Just look west to see how to fix the federal budget

Jill Beccaris-Pescatore picture

While the presidential candidates where making promises about what they would do over taxes and deficit reduction, Jerry Brown was busy fulfilling one of his campaign promises.

The California governor fought to take a tax increase to the voters of his state, and Proposition 30 passed 54% to 46% on election day.

California, where citizens first capped property taxes in 1978, turned out to be the real grown-ups at the ballot box this time around.

They took a significant step toward solving the state's $15.7 billion budget shortfall and averting $5.5 billion in cuts to public schools.

Prop 30 increases the state sales tax by 0.25% for four years and income taxes on households earning more than $250,000 for seven years.

Combined with a couple of other helpful propositions voters approved on Nov. 6, the state's independent budget analyst now forecasts California will only run a $1.9 billion deficit in 2013 and flip to a small surplus in 2014.

I would argue that the situation is not much different when it comes to the federal deficit.

Americans reelected President Obama with his promise to raise taxes on the wealthiest 2% of all households.

We made a clear choice between that and Mitt Romney's plan to leave those tax rates unchanged and close unspecified tax loopholes instead.

Now Congress needs to do what we voted for.

It's time for Republicans in the House to negotiate a fair and comprehensive deficit-reduction plan that includes higher taxes on the rich.

And they need to do it before we plunge off the fiscal cliff on Jan. 1, which is when a combination of even more severe tax hikes and spending cuts take effect that could throw the economy back into recession.

Heck, don't listen to me.

Glenn Hubbard, Romney's economic adviser during the campaign, says in a Financial Times op-ed piece last week that higher tax rates on the wealthy are needed .

It’s time for all of us to grow up and take our medicine. We can’t balance the federal budget without a combination of spending cuts and tax hikes.

Americans know it. Congress knows it. Let's look at what California has accomplished and take our lead from the Left Coast.

Jill Beccaris-Pescatore is an assistant professor of economics at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, Pa.

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