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Blog: Washington once again kicks the can down the road

The national debt has increased from $11 trillion to a record $18.2 trillion over the past seven years under President Obama with very little to show for it.

The solution agreed upon by both Congress and the President to raise the debt ceiling once again is disappointing. Both the Congress and president on a bipartisan basis, are just kicking the can down the road to March 2017 and beyond instead of dealing with our financial crises today. They are leaving the next president and Congress elected in November 2016 holding the bag. There is a good chance that by March 2017, our national debt will grow to $20 trillion.

Congress and the president have agreed to bust the sequester ceiling and increase spending by $80 billion over 2 years. This represents about 1 percent of a $3.8 trillion annual budget. How could they both not find these dollars by a combination of savings and/or reprogramming funding from other programs to support these new expenditures?

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 $80 billion in offsets that members of Congress and the president could not. Millions of Americans have cut a greater percentage out of their family budgets and managed to survive. Why can’t our elected officials do likewise?

President Obama and Congress should have frozen overall spending by adopting 2008 spending levels in 2016 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 along with our Congressional delegation, that the sky was falling when the 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 should be matched by corresponding real cuts in spending. History has proven that promises to cut future spending over the next ten years are never be honored by the next Congress or president. These so called cuts in spending currently proposed exist only on paper. They represent a simple yearly decrease in the growth of current spending. At the end of the day, Washington will continue to spend hundreds of billions more each year than what is collected in tax revenues. This shortfall will have to be borrowed increasing our national debt by trillions over the next ten years.

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.

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. Legalize the growth and sales of marijuana. Add a small national sales tax on all legal transactions. This could raise significant revenues and cover any medical costs for potential excessive consumption by some users. It would free up the military, courts and law enforcement to deal with other more important issues.

Everyone needs to do their fair share in bringing the budget deficit under control. It is time for Uncle Sam to destroy its own credit cards.

Both the president and Congress remind me of the cartoon character Wimpy who famously said “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” When the bills become due, taxpayers will end up picking up the tab. Isn’t it time Washington destroyed its credit cards and lived within its means just like you and I?

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