National Issues | Public Debt |

Stop Spending – A Congressional New Year’s Resolution

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Republicans have promised to cut spending this next year. While I applaud their words, I have little faith anything will change on the scale required to make a dent in the deficit, especially after the $4.5 billion Michelle Obama food initiative S.3307 vote earlier this month. The bill, which passed with Republican support, broadly expands government power and welfare. Not to mention wasting millions on things the country can’t afford such as a mandatory $40 million in funding for school gardens and the poorly thought out unintended consequences by those voting for the bill. While a new congress may be able to make some small inroads into knocking down our debt, I believe much progress won’t be made for the following reasons. First the Republicans don’t have the power to do much in the area of spending reductions and there are still too many politically weak elected Republicans in office. Secondly, Democrats have shown they don’t have any interest in spending reductions. Finally, we don’t have enough elected leaders with enough backbone and foresight to do what’s right for the country. Leaders that will stand up to bring fiscal accountability back to our federal government. Leaders who will call out other elected officials when they misrepresent facts to the American people.

We need leaders that can get our great nation back on track by getting back to basics and using common sense. This past year Adm. Mike Mullen called the nation’s debt the “biggest threat to U.S. national security”. The Democrats raised the U.S. debt limit to over 14 trillion dollars earlier this year with the passage of H.J.Res.45, and are looking to extend the increase next year. What are our elected leaders in Washington doing about this out of control spending? Mostly nothing is being done to curb spending, other than giving the usual Washington rhetoric to the people. We may have gotten a few more good leaders this past election cycle, but it is clear we need to keep cleaning house in 2012. Irresponsibility, politics, and the media are the main cause of our fiscal troubles.

Irresponsibility is the first and foremost problem that has brought us to this debt crisis. While it is lofty social promises that are mostly to blame for our massive unfunded deficits, I would like to take a minute to discuss earmarks and the basics of federal waste. Earmarks really have no place on the federal level, other than as bribes for which to purchase support for a bill. Last month the Senate rejected a GOP bid to ban earmarks. While earmarks are usually small, they add up, not to mention the fact the country does not have the money to fund them anymore. This irresponsible use of earmarks lies with each state’s elected federal leaders as well as local governments that accept these funds. Salt Lake City is one example, 26 million in federal tax dollars will be wasted for a 2 mile streetcar project. While the streetcar line might be nice to have, it is arguably a waste of money. Another example comes from Custer South Dakota and a downtown beautification project. While the lack of earmarks will not stop the project from moving forward Democrat Sen. Tim Johnson did try to secure $400,000 in funding for aesthetic upgrades to Custer’s main street in a year end spending bill which failed earlier this month. The above mentioned local projects as well as thousands of others across the country really have no business being funded by federal tax dollars. If localities deem these projects good investments, they should take on the funding responsibilities themselves. Especially in times like these when the federal government has no business borrowing money to pay for unneeded luxuries. If our elected leaders will not step up to the plate now, get back to basics, and ban these luxuries during this time of fiscal crisis, it’s time to ban them from serving by throwing them out of office in 2012.

Politics also play a large role in our fiscal problems as politicians look for their next vote. It’s a war of words to pitting citizen against citizen, misleading the people, and bringing federal dollars to each state in order to make elected officials look good. When our leaders refer to a small spending increase as a cut, or refer to tax cut extensions as unfunded, they are lying to the people, plain and simple. For example, the recent tax cut extension was said to cost $857 billion. Attempts were made to pit the middle class against the so called rich. However, in reality the true cost was only that of the earmarks and subsidies included with the bill which was nowhere near $857 billion. Politicians as well as government accounting practices use “fuzzy” math during these cost calculations, math that would not cut it for the average citizen. What would you think if your neighbor told you his work had cut his pay by 36%? Then weeks later you found out that your neighbor had only expected a 36% raise that was never received, calling their un-received raise a pay cut. This month our President’s announced a so called federal pay freeze to help curb federal spending. However, the truth came out as time went on, when we learned the pay freeze only applied to cost of living increases and not actual pay raises for federal employees. More of the same politics as usual with the token pay freeze plan which affects almost nothing in terms of the nation’s debt.

The media play the final role in our fiscal mess. As most of the main stream media seem to have no interest in investigating facts as they only employ tactics to gain viewership or sway an audience to a particular conclusion. A simple example was a recent interview on ABC news with Warren Buffet, no real facts just Mr. Buffets opinion that the rich do not pay enough tax. Nothing was mentioned about the vast increases to the treasury after the Reagan and Bush tax cuts were instituted for the so called rich. There was also nothing brought up about Mr. Buffet’s support of an increase in the death tax for the so called rich. A tax increase which would greatly benefit the insurance companies he owns. Nor was it mentioned that those so inclined, including Mr. Buffett can pay more taxes if they feel they are not paying enough.

Solutions to this fiscal mess are not simple but start with common sense. Federal tax dollars do not belong in earmarks destined for local state projects and states need show some accountability for these earmarks. We need leaders who will call a cut, a cut and an increase in spending, an increase in spending. When a promise is made to freeze spending, spending should actually be frozen. One of the most important solutions to the nation’s debt problem is not the lack of collected tax, but lack of will to simply stop spending so much. While in depth solutions for our fiscal problems are too lengthy to discuss at the moment. Four main areas can be of focus, government growth and spending practices, representative ethics, and federal social programs. These areas are also a focus of the Demand Liberty Platform for American Freedom.

Expanding government such as in the case of S.3307 is not only a bad idea in the first place, but is an even worse idea when the country is broke. This bill only expands the unfunded government nanny state and no doubt will have no real measurable beneficial effect for the children of this country. This bill, will most likely lead only to new laws when the current text of the bill does not have the desired effect as “non-nutritional” food is removed from schools. Will the next step be to outlaw convenience stores in close proximity to school zones, as drug free zones exist today? Will students be expelled for bringing a candy bar to school? Sound crazy, well students are currently being expelled from schools for reasons including, drawing Jesus on the cross as well as doodling pictures of guns and numerous other things every year.

Government spending practices need to be revamped. This will not only help to restore federal fiscal responsibility, it will also reduce partisan misrepresentations of fiscal matters. This involves reversing the current spending system. Instead of projecting tax revenue and spending that revenue in advance, the federal budget should be based from taxes collected two years prior to the current fiscal year. Any non-emergency spending should be required to fit into the budget with projections based from these previously collected tax figures. While any spending additions being met with reductions of other budgeted items for the fiscal year. While this is not the only change which needs to be made to federal spending practices it is one of the most important.

Higher ethical standards should be a requirement of our elected officials. Calling a reduction in an increase a budgetary cut is absurd and unethical. Attempting to secure earmarks just to bring money back into a representative’s state for pet projects is also an unethical use of federal tax dollars. Call it like it is, don’t misrepresent the facts and keep federal funding limited to federal interests. Is that too much to ask?

The last item on the list is social programs. These programs are eating up the federal budget at unprecedented rates. Welfare reform is greatly needed as one form of welfare, food stamps, can be used to purchase items such as pizza from Papa Johns via EBT. Why is the federal government giving California any funding when they allow welfare recipients to get cash back using EBT cards? Social Security and Medicare reforms are also greatly needed as those programs go bankrupt under federal mismanagement. Social Security dollars need to be put back in the hands of the people if not only for one obvious reason. Under government control Social Security and Medicare have gone bankrupt. Not to mention that citizens can’t decide at what age they retire with the current Social Security system and any unused funds paid into the system cannot be passed to family members upon death. Those under 40 should be allowed to transition to private retirement accounts mostly free of government management while those under 25 should be required to transfer to this new system. While there are many critics of private Social Security accounts, there are lessons to be learned from a privatized Chile Social Security system. These lessons could make an American privatized system a great success. The government has shown they can’t even print money properly wasting millions. With a Social Security system that is bankrupt, why should anyone trust them to manage the retirement future of each American citizen? Especially after the presidents debt commission suggested raising the retirement age yet again in order to help funding of the system. I guess the idea is for citizens to never receive benefits.

As this year comes to a close, the entire Congress as well as President Obama should commit to real spending reform next year. While I have no doubt nothing will really change in the near term. There is hope for the future, as we the people can continue to weed out the spineless representatives as they cave to big government, driving us forward down the path less traveled by freedom. Those of us sitting back letting their representatives move forward on their own can no longer afford to do so as it is quite clear we have very few elected leaders, who like George Washington have the best interest of the country in the forefront as they do their jobs. I implore you to make a resolution this next year to spend more time than you do now each week, whether five minutes or five hours, involving yourself in politics. Make your voice heard by your representative and evaluate whether they are keeping the best interest of freedom at the forefront of their work. Several members of the current administration have said America can no longer do great things. Reforming the practices used by our government to spend and collect tax payer dollars may be one of the most impressive tasks America has ever undertaken.

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This post was submitted by American_Innovation.

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