"On one side, we have folks focused largely on preserving entitlements -- and on the other, folks who are trying to preserve wealth."
Someone else institutionally (in the sense of parroting the surface arguments being thrown around, without looking past them at what neither side wants people to question) clueless about what is going on.
Ok, so here is a hint. Most of those "entitlements" are things like checks to elderly people you are whining about being threatened, and most of them paid **from** money that is specifically taxed, to fund those programs. The problem with most of them is that certain politicians have been robbing the funds for decades, to make up for short falls other places.
The second problem is.. Well, if you know that you have 4 departments in a company, all taking materials from one source, all doing nearly the same job, and someplace money is disappearing in the mess, you don't close the entire company, or even the entire collection of departments. You send in a damn auditor, consolidate the departments, if possible, then fire who ever is stealing the money. If it turns out that someone is also cooking the books, or playing games with them, such that money that was "supposed" to go there, is either a) never being collected, or b) not getting to it, you fire them.
The side you quote as "preserving wealth" have been a) actively working on creating and maintaining loopholes which prevent "collecting" any money, b) shuffling funds places they don't belong, c) undermining the checks and balances (or even in some cases making them overly complex, and thus unenforceable, that would prevent the problems), d) insisting that the real problem is that too much money, in general, is being given to the departments, and e) declaring things redundant, even when they are not, having neither the interest in fixing the problems, nor understanding them. Worse, they want to be the new CEOs and managers of *all* of the departments, because they can then do more of a, b and c, and one sure fire way to do that, if you don't really care about any of the low end employees, or stock holders (i.e., the voters), is by intentionally making things complicated, misunderstanding the problem, and then demanding that all 4 departments be simply done away with, since its, "Now to complicated to fix!"
The other side is doing a bit of (b) themselves, and I am sure there are some doing a few of the others, for their own political reasons. But, the fed, in terms of taxes, is playing the same game that the banks did. They create "loans", or pay outs, leveraged against possible future income, hand those things out to people that have no intention to pay, and will use every means possible to not do so, and now they are standing around pretending to be confused by why the government doesn't have is, lets say to pick a hypothetical company called Widget Corp., $200 million in the hole, when they should have gotten $100 million in taxes from them, but gave them $150 million in tax breaks and loopholes, then handed them a $50 million dollar refund at the end of the year.
Yet, taxes, as you say, are not the problem... Only if you think giving away money to people, including ones that tell you they don't want or need it, then *not* collecting any interest on it (i.e., all of the taxes due), is somehow not a "tax issue".
The rest is just a flat out refusal of both sides to not *cut* budgets, but to figure out why the hell they cost more than they should. Hint - To do that means spending some money now, to figure out what the hell is wrong, then fix it, so you don't spend as much later, when its finally fixed. Health care, as an example, cost us more, by doing things the may we did before, and would cost even more if 100% private, than any other country in the western world. We have more technology, more resources, more everything. Only.. Everything we make, including those medical devices, are produced some place else, so we spend probably 50% of our health costs paying ***some other country*** to build the shit we make. We let insurance companies (they even got sued over this, and sort of, but not quite, lost) set the "minimum" prices that supposedly exist for treatments, then let them go whining to the Congress to up the amount over that faux cost to 35%, instead of the 25% they where already commit highway robbery to get out of our pockets.
In short, we *should* be able to build more technology than anyone else, have enough resources to make medicines cheaper than anyone else, etc., **and** have the result cost us less, in general, that it does any other country in the world. Yet, we spend more than all of them, buy nearly everything, including some medications, from over seas sources, then let "companies", instead of doctors, decide how much their own services cost, and we opt to listen to idiots that *claim* that this vast neglect of our own resources and common sense is "comparable" to some place like Sweden, where nearly 100% of everything they have medically comes from outside, not because they are too stupid to make it themselves, but because ***they don't have the resources to even try to do so***.
We manage to have 5,000 times the resources of nearly anyone else, save China, we are 5,000 times stupider, in that we sell it to China and have *them* make the products for us, then we dare to claim that we even have a damn clue what medical care should cost, or that somehow private companies can handle it better, instead of making it 5,000 times worse, than our government has managed. And we compare the troubles countries with "no" resources, "no" industry, who send their people to *our* schools to learn technology, and who are, in fact, more than 50% dependent on *us* for every single thing they use to treat their own people, to our healthcare industry, and claim that its proof it can't work here... Bloody Frell!! Next your going to tell me that because people can't water ski in the desert we shouldn't bother selling ski boats near the frakking ocean.
From top to bottom we do every thing backwards. We make almost nothing, we sell half of what we do to other people, hell, North Korea, you know, the people that are *not* our allies, are using technology *we* invented to provide their people with non-free, but never the less 50mps+, fiber optic, internet access to everyone in the country. We can't even provide 9600baud dialup to 25% of our own country, never mind cell phone service. They have stuff in N and S Korea that looks like it came out of sci-fi movies, while we have people in this country that probably would still think "ghosts are hiding in the engine", if they ever so much as saw a steam locomotive, never mind *ever* any sort of high speed, light rail.
The government is serving TV dinners, while handing out caviar and champagne to people that make 500 times what I do a year, and then "claiming" that the problem is that they don't have enough money to keep serving TV dinners, so we have to cut the people, like me, still paying into SS and Medicare, etc., back to pop tarts. After all, its not like I intentionally told the government that I wanted to pay *into* those "entitlements", so I would have them later, like.. you know, it was bloody contractual or something.
Shorter version - Closing the company is only an option if the company "can't" provide any services, and no one is willing to buy any. The later is almost true, but its called paying 10% of taxes, when you where charged 26%, and using some of it to pay people to argue that you shouldn't have been charged so much in the first place. The former simply isn't true.
Doing so because you can't, won't, or don't want to bother, to figure out who in the company is actually lying, cheating, stealing the office supplies, or running their own side business using company funds... well, that might be semi-viable, for a corporation, where the expectation is that the employees *might* find another job. Its pure idiocy when you only have a) one government (i.e., no where else to get any of those services), b) more then 9 million people are out of work, and another 2-3 million are not even on the list of people out of work, and c) the result is going to screw "everyone", except maybe the upper management, which are busy shifting money over seas, where, if everything blows up, some of their money might still be worth something (or at least their personal side business will be).
That is the true disaster here. Not the fact that one side is "too interested in defending 'entitlements'". All that is is a stupid buzz word, invented to smoke and mirrors what they *really* mean when they talk about the number of things they will f-up, i.e., cut, which normal people depend on, if they get what they want, while simultaneously keeping all the money other things, and expanding new programs, to make sure everyone is, what is it this week, that we are not wearing gay underwear, or some similar thing they plan to make a jail-able offense?