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Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Budget

But didn't know to ask Frank J. Fleming for the answers.

by
Frank J. Fleming

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August 27, 2012 - 12:00 am
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Ever since Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan as running mate, people have been quite frightened of this thing called a “budget” that Ryan has been proposing. It’s been many years since our country has seen such a thing, so I thought I’d address some common questions and allay the concerns out there.

FEDERAL BUDGET FAQ

Did Paul Ryan invent this idea of a “budget” to try to undermine President Obama?

No, budgets have been around for a long time, and America has actually had them in the past. Even Jimmy Carter had a budget, and he was a complete failure at everything.

Didn’t the Nazis and the KKK also have budgets?

After years of going without a federal budget, the idea of a budget may sound scary, but it’s actually a common thing for governments to have them. Budgets aren’t evil at all.

The purpose of a budget seems to be to limit what the government can spend on the poor, the elderly, and people who just don’t feel like working, so why are so many people intent on making us have a budget? Do they hate the needy?

The compelling force behind our need for a budget is something called “math.”

Why should math have any influence on the federal government? It was never elected.

Math always has — or at least had — an influence on what the government can do. Think of it as a large, outside influence that is always there, like George Soros.

George Soros doesn’t influence the government! That’s just a lie the Koch brothers spend millions of dollars to spread!

Fine, but just understand that math is there and will have an effect on what the government can do, one way or another.

What does math want in a budget, anyway?

It would like for us to not have such a huge disparity between our revenue and our spending.

Explain.

The amount of money the federal government spends right now far exceeds the amount of revenue the government takes in.

Explain simpler.

Um… when you have more money than the amount something costs, that’s called being able to “afford” something. We can’t “afford” the amount of spending we currently have.

Explain even simpler.

Spending greater than money. This bad.

I still don’t understand. If we’ve been spending more than we take in for some time, doesn’t that prove that that’s a fun and good thing to do and that we can keep doing it forever and ever?

No. As we continue to spend more than we take in, we add to the national debt, and eventually there will be a reckoning for that.

Since the national debt is almost $16 trillion — so big it’s essentially a made-up number — can’t we just ignore it?

This is not a good idea, as it will not continue to ignore us. Our credit was already downgraded. At some point, the world will lose confidence in the U.S. economy, and we’ll no longer be able to borrow money. This could result in a complete economic collapse.

And what happens after that?

The apes take over. They’re debt-free.

Why do Republicans insist on spending cuts to make their crazy budget idea work? Can’t we just keep spending in order to stimulate the economy and grow our way out of our deficit?

Or we could take those unicorns President Obama promised us and ride rainbows out of this mess.

Unicorns are invisible.

Excuse me?

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