There are two sides to every story concerning tea party Republicans who are correct to be critical of Republican House Speaker John Boehner. The adopted budget for 2014 and 2015 is a disaster for those who advocate fiscal restraint, balanced budgets, no tax increases and reduction in long term debt. Billions in “user fee” increases are just hidden taxes to pay for more social programs advocated by Democrats. Promised savings of $85 billion over 10 years accompanied by a $23 billion reduction in debt is just creative book keeping. How can anyone not find far more on a yearly basis in savings out of a $3 trillion dollar plus budget?
There are just as many good managers in the government as in the private sector. If their superiors would give them the authority and flexibility to manage budgets, they could find far more savings than members of Congress and the president have proposed. Millions of Americans have cut far more out of their family budgets and managed to survive. Why can’t our elected officials do likewise? There is no guarantee that future budgets adopted by Congress and signed off by presidents will enforce these commitments that exist only on paper. Both the Congress and president on a bipartisan basis are just kicking the can to 2015 and beyond instead of dealing with our financial crises today.
In reality, this budget doesn’t even reduce the level for future growth in spending to a slightly lower level than what President Obama has consistently advocated.
Everyone has forgotten that decades ago balanced budgets were supported on a bipartisan basis by both the President and Congress regardless of which party was in control. Neither the Republicans or Democrats in Congress or President Obama offer a real balanced budget anytime soon. If tea party Republicans wanted this toxic brew Boehner is serving, they might as well have voted for Democratic House candidates and bring back Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. At least with Pelosi, what you see is what you get.
Here are some ideas that Congress and the president could have been considering in dealing with Washington’s runaway spending and long term debt.
President Obama and Congress could have frozen overall expenditures by adopting 2008 spending levels in 2014 funding bills for all Federal agencies. This would cut our spending up to a trillion dollars resulting in the end of borrowing and a real balanced budget. There was no public outcry from Democrats in 2008, including our own Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and our Congressional delegation, that the sky was falling when the annual federal budget was a trillion dollars less than it is today. They didn’t say that a multi-trillion dollar safety net and Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid were going to end. The 2008 budget was prior to the one-time stimulus American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, TARP, auto industry bailouts, cash for clunkers and Obama Care expenditures. Now everything needs to be on the table, including the infamous “third rails” of American politics — Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and military spending. Any extension of the debt ceiling which will need to be resolved in January 2014 should be matched by corresponding real cuts in spending.
Implement “pay as you go” budgeting, means testing for all government assistance and sunset provisions for agencies and programs that have completed their missions. End pork-barrel member item spending, stop paying farmers to not grow crops and abolish corporate welfare subsides via tax deductions.
Close down obsolete military bases abroad. Don’t buy multi-billion dollar new technology weapons systems that the Pentagon never asked for. All too often they end up being accompanied by huge cost overruns, multi-year delays and never meet performance expectations. Reduce United Nations and foreign aid to those who offer no support when needed. End the wasteful war in Afghanistan.
Have the IRS accelerate the collection of several hundred billion in uncollected back taxes owed by deadbeat individuals and corporations along with suspending billions in future tax refunds to those who continue failing to pay long overdue taxes or student loans.
Stop wasting billions of dollars on the war on drugs.
Everyone needs to do their fair share in bringing the budget deficit under control. It is time for government to destroy its own credit cards.
How ironic that after winning the Cold War against the Evil Empire of Communism, it may be mismanagement of our economy that results in a decline of our standard of living. It may also end our reign as the world’s super power as we become the world super debtor nation.
Republicans should have offered a choice, not an echo to President Obama and the Democrats status quo of trillions in additional debt and uncontrolled spending.
How disappointing that everyone in Washington appears to be preoccupied with staying in power regardless of the cost to taxpayers.