By: Wayne Brown
As I watched the media interview Senators and Congressional Representatives last night attempting to gain some insight into the debate over the massive Omnibus Spending bill now being considered by this lame-duck session for 2010, I have to say that I was appalled. Here we are three months into the new fiscal year and the country does not have a budget in place to help guide our spending. Apparently, our elected officials chose not to go to the trouble and just decided to starting writing checks. Now, they say our government will run out of money by the end of the week…how the hell would they know that fact? By all appearances and the rate of spending going on, I would say our government never runs out of money.
The budget process in this country is relatively simple in concept. It is a coordinated effort between the executive branch and the legislative branch. Basically, the President and his staff determine what the country needs to function and to accomplish in the coming fiscal year. They then place a best estimate price tag on those items and eventually it all comes together into a “spending plan”. At this point, the best way to describe it might be a “wish list” as there are no constraints in place financially for creating this itemization for spending.
Next, the President’s budget proposal goes to the Legislative side of the government. The House Appropriations Committee tackles the spending requests line item by line item, examines the proposed costs, determines the prioritized value to the nation, and then looks at the proposed income stream flowing into the government to determine whether or not there is money for these items. Some items get cut, some get reduced and some might even get an increase schedule for spending. Once the numbers are finalized and the Appropriations Committee is happy with the results, the spending is shaped into an appropriations bill and sent to the House floor for vote. If it passes, the bill then goes to the Senate for a similar review. If there are no changes there, it goes to the floor of the Senate for the vote. If it passes, it becomes law for the next fiscal year as soon as the President’s signature is applied. If there are changes, then the bill gets an up or down vote in the Senate and is passed back to the House for acceptance of the changes in another vote. Eventually a budget bill is passed and it goes to the President to sign into law.
That process did not take place this year. I am not sure it took place last year either. All these items have sat over in the corner until now while our legislative branch simply passed temporary operating authorizations for government spending ignoring the budget process. Meanwhile, more and more “pork” or earmark spending proposals were added to the growing stack of paper until finally it exceeded over 2,000 pages in size. Suddenly, now in lame-duck session, the democrats are ready to throw this massive spending proposal on the table and declare that it must be passed for the country is running out of money by the end of the week.
To say that “this pisses me off” is an understatement. Here we are as voters electing these people to go and sit in their fine and expensive leather chairs, eat nice meals in private dining rooms, enjoy washrooms nicer than most of our homes, earn a six-figured salary with full-retirement benefits after one term of service, and enjoy customized healthcare for the rest of your life. All of those benefits that look so good to each of us. All those benefits they have literally voted for themselves to have because they feel they deserve it, and they cannot do their job by completing the budget process that is required.
A very clear message was sent this past November that the majority of Americans were sick and tired of the out of control spending going on in Washington. Still we hear our elected officials talking about how this country cannot afford to continue tax cuts installed ten years ago by the Bush Administration. Frankly, I have had trouble understanding that concept. If I personally have been doing without something for ten years, I have forgotten about it by now. I certainly don’t include in my plans for the future.
But things are different in Washington. Somewhere along the line, the legislative side of our government decided it was their job to be the social conscience of this country. With that, they begin to spend like there was an endless supply of money. The smarter ones figured out quickly that they could use taxpayer dollars to buy voting blocks for re-election and the spending continued. Soon, coming up with a budget that might limit spending seemed like such a “bomber” so why do it. Let’s just spend money and to hell with everything else.
Day after day we hear our Senators and Representatives arguing about who should be taxed. You see it becomes an “either or situation” in their minds. Like addicts on dope they are addicted to the spending process and they are not about to give it up easily. Therefore, in order to get their hands on the money, they either have to appropriate it from the middle-class American workers or they have to raise taxes on the wealthy. Either way, their drunken-sailor like spending can continue. The words related to cutting spending and reducing spending rates stick in their throats and thus cannot be considered by them in any form.
The money process is a simple one. Look at the tax rolls and figure out how much is coming into the government in the form of taxes in the coming year. Look at the proposals submitted by the President and the residual overhead associated with running the military and other on-going functions of the government. Cut and trim accordingly until the amount of money coming in matches with the requests for money going out. Of course you also might want to build in some contribution to emergency funding just in case there is a national disaster or two. Regardless of how you approach it, one side of the journal eventually equals but does not exceed the other. That is how you get a balanced budget. But it does not happen unless you go through the process and apply some level of common sense, sanity, and self-discipline. The American people are damn sure paying enough in salary and benefits that we should not have to bitch about how poorly the job is being done. But the fact of the matter is the performance in Washington today by comparison absolutely sucks!
Now, I feel much better because that has been boiling around in my brain all night. Americans are a hardworking breed of people. We don’t mind stepping up and paying our fair share and maybe a little more when times call for it. We don’t mind tightening our belts for the right reasons. What we do mind is to see those people for whom we have cast our votes go to Washington and so miserably mismanage our hard-earned tax dollars and then get on television and attempt to rationalize what they have done in the name of social justice and looking out for America’s welfare. We can spot a phony and we can catch a thief given time. The time has past when America should accept the behavior coming out of our Federal Government. We can and should demand that the business of America be put back on course and that our money…that’s right…our money be managed in a right and proper manner. It’s long past time for that and it needs to be done! God Bless America.
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