A Nice, Little, Itty-Bitty, Tiny Baby Step
In the wee hours of Saturday morning, the US House passed a continuing resolution to cut some $100 billion from this year's budget, although it looks like it might be more like $61 billion in a crass, hocus-pocus kind of way. Of course this is just the House, and there is no guarantee that the Senate will be 1/1,000,000th as bold and I'm not sure if President Obama will be able to take time away from painting "Governor Walker=Hitler" signs long enough to sign the resolution.
That said, it was a move in the right direction. However, it needs to be viewed in the light of what it really is; a teeny-tiny little baby step in the right direction. We are $14 trillion in debt and we are projected to rack up $1.5 trillion in debt just this year. The Republicans could pass a resolution like this once a month for the rest of the year and we would still be swimming in red ink, so let's not break our arms patting ourselves on the back about this.
This is a time for seriousness. Note to Congressmen & women: We didn't work our hind ends off getting you elected to be satisfied with cutting less than 1/10th of our annual deficit. We want more. I've said this before, and I'll say it again, it's like the Bill Cosby quote: "I brought you into this world and I'll take you out and your mother and I can make another one that looks just like you".
I was reminded of this when i saw a press release from one of the Republican Congressmen in a rural state say that while he was happy with this, he was hoping to restore some funding for the Department of Agriculture. NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, and &*$@ NO!!!!!!!!! We don't need Congressmen that are going to pander to special interest. We need Congressmen from farm states that will vote for cutting farm subsidies. We need Congressmen from Texas that will vote to cut oil subsidies. We need Congressmen from the Northeast that will vote to cut Amtrak. We need Congressmen from Florida that will vote to change Social Security. If you are worried about trying to line up votes for 2012 by bringing home the pork, guess what, we'll help you with that. We'll find someone to replace you so you don't have to worry about it. On the flip side, if you hold to your principles, we'll work tirelessly (like we have already) to help get you re-elected.
Here are some ideas:
We need to cut farm subsidies. Victor Davis Hanson has a great article about this - no need for me to try and do better - read it here.
Immediately cut all development of High Speed Rail. Heck, even the New York Times thinks it's crazy. There is not a high-speed rail system outside of the far east that pays for itself on a yearly basis (forget the initial construction cost). In Japan, which is the "model" for high speed rail, they haven't significantly expanded their system since the early 1980's if that tells you what they think of it.
Eliminate the Department of Education. So, what does Washington DC do to really educate your kids anyway? I thought we had school boards and the State Boards of education? To show you that I'll put my money where my mouth is, we need to greatly cut back higher education funding (and I am but a couple years away from emptying my pocket books for my two little Ghostie's college fund). If all of the Federal spending on pell grants, loans, etc. were supposed to hold down the cost of education and make it more affordable for the majority of people, then I guess I should believe in the Easter Bunny.
Cut the Department of Defense. I know - sacred cow. Even sacred cows need a diet and the Department of Defense is no exception. We need to cut unnecessary programs, look for fraud and waste, eliminate duplicative programs and ferret out unnecessary administrative costs. We can do that WITHOUT affecting our brave men and women that are actually doing the hard work. There are lots of ideas here.
Enough Talk - Deal with Entitlements: I'm glad to see some of the freshmen class demand that the leadership start looking at entitlements. This is the most important thing that Congress can do.
Look at everything, large and small: We still provide mohair subsidies, which were enacted during World War II because we needed wool for uniforms. We don't need wool anymore for military uniforms, but the subsidies continue.
Looking at the Citizens Against Government Waste "Pig Book", we find funding for "Pickle Science and Technology", $18.9 million for "The Edward Kennedy Institute for the Senate" (no word on whether it will come with an open bar or a cash bar), $2.265 million for the "Ice Age National Scenic Trail" in Wisconsin, $500,000 for the Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in Iowa., and $693,000 for "Beef improvement research" (here's your research - go to Morton's). Federal spending is LOADED with programs that are essentially acting as the research arms for various large businesses around the country. Here's an idea - how about cutting the corporate income tax rate and tell business to provide their own R&D funding?
Is cutting $18.9 million for the Edward Kennedy Institute for Senate going to balance the budget? No, but cutting a couple thousand earmarks just like that will start to make a dent.
Just to be clear, a balanced federal budget is NOT the goal. We need to get to the point where we have several hundred billion in surplus every year so we can start paying back our debt.
OK, Congress, you shaved off $100 billion - nice start. You only have about $1.5 Trillion to go - keep at it.
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