A budget is a financial plan that takes income and divides it between outgo. This simple process has proven to be an impossible task for the current federal government. In fact the current government has been unable to even honestly address this problem. Take the sequestration everyone has been yelling about. A two and one half percent cut in spending. Now to me and to most people a cut in spending is real, if I spend 100 dollars one year and spend 95 dollars next year this is a cut in spending. Now sequestration means that if I spent 100 dollars this year then I would spend 103 dollars next year, instead of 105 dollars. As far as I can tell this is an increase in spending not a decrease. Yet to our politicians and politicians of both parties the sequestration is considered as a cut. A reduction in the increase is a cut. Where else but Washington can an increase in spending be called a cut?
Where else can the budgetary process be so mishandled? Oh Austin and the teacher’s union. Take money from the rainy day fund and put it towards education. The rainy day fund is not a budgeted account but a surplus built up over time. If money is pulled out than it’s gone and not renewed over the year. That is why the rainy day fund is to be used for one time projects or emergency funding, not as a stop gap funding mechanism. In a way this is like the federal government’s offer to fund 90% of a program for seven years. From year eight and forever on the state would now pay 100% of the program’s cost. Wow get the person addicted and then quit the discount. There is something fundamentally wrong with this morally not just financially. All of these problems spring from the same source politicians and the fact that they want to be reelected, time and time again. So politically created budgets are the problem what then is a possible solution?
First, there must be a stable and consistent system of income. This means a set tax rate that will not be increased or decreased in an attempt to curry favor and buy votes. Therefore there must be a national discussion to decide on a fair and impartial tax rate. Unless this is done the tax rate will always be in a state of flux. Second, instead of allocating so much money per need there needs to be a percent of the income for each. So instead of saying one billion for TSA instead put one percent of the budget for TSA. Defense could be given 17% of the budget not a given amount of money. Third, term limits on elected officials. Face it the longer a politician is in office the more corrupt and entitled they feel. Power corrupts and the longer these politicians are in office the more corrupt they become and the more they forget about the people who elected them. Fourth there must be mandated punishments for politicians who vote to exceed the budget or who fail to pass a budget for a given year. Also there will be times when a budget must be exceeded, war and national disasters/emergencies, these would be acceptable reasons anything else no. Four steps to correct the budget mess. Not that they are simple or easy but needed. Also remember we still must pay-off the national debt. A debt of some sixteen trillion dollars and still growing, and growing because our politicians are too weak willed to solve the problem.
As President Kennedy once said, “ask not what your country can do for you, but what can you do for your country.” Demand a fix, insist on accountability, and settle for nothing less.
ROY POKLADNIK, a teacher and problem solver welcomes comments and suggestions for topics . He may be reached at : firstname.lastname@example.org.