Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Budget
But didn't know to ask Frank J. Fleming for the answers.
August 27, 2012 - 12:00 am
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.
The amount of money the federal government spends right now far exceeds the amount of revenue the government takes in.
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.
You act like we didn’t get the unicorns Obama promised, but you have to remember that unicorns are invisible, so we may have gotten them, and you just don’t know it.
Noted. Anyway, my point is that the federal government needs to stick to things directly under its control, i.e., spending, to make sure it doesn’t make the situation even worse. Continuing to spend at the current level and hoping we can eventually pay for it is like someone buying a house he can’t afford the monthly payments on and then buying lottery tickets on credit every week, hoping that he’ll win before the creditors come after him.
You can do that?
Don’t do that.
Can’t we just raise taxes on the rich to pay for everything?
I’m still not comfortable with math making governmental decisions.
Well, it does have very little influence these days. But the only way to ensure we’ll have a sustainable budget is to make spending cuts.
Can’t we just cut things we don’t use, like the military? In Paul Ryan’s budget, he actually proposes changes to Medicare. What is it about old people that makes Republicans like Paul Ryan want to murder them?
More than half of government spending is in entitlements, so the only real way to get spending under control is to make changes to things like Medicare and Social Security. Also, the changes Paul Ryan proposes will only affect those under 55, so they won’t affect old people.
The changes will affect future old people.
Also known as “young people”.
Yeah, but we can’t go around saying that Paul Ryan’s budget will affect young people, because young people don’t vote. We need to scare old people.
We are aware of that.
It just seems so uncaring to go after entitlements. Isn’t Paul Ryan Catholic? And didn’t Jesus teach us that we have to have the government take care of everyone?
Jesus preached about personal charity. He never talked about being charitable with other people’s money. Especially not with money we don’t actually have.
But wasn’t Jesus always robbing from the rich to give to the poor?
I believe you’re thinking of someone else.
I’m pretty sure I once saw Jesus use a bow.
I’m absolutely certain you’re thinking of someone else.
I’m still not convinced that we need a budget — and we certainly don’t need to work toward one so extreme that it actually balances. Harry Reid says we don’t need a budget.
Harry Reid is clearly senile. He once argued that taxes are voluntary. He is obviously not all there, and you shouldn’t listen to him.
But Joe Biden said…
You’re really not picking the best people to listen to.
Still, won’t cutting or changing entitlements people depend on show that we just don’t care about people?
If we’re helping people in a way that’s unsustainable and will thus one day be forced to yank the rug out from under everyone, then I’d say we’re only pretend-caring right now. If we really cared about people, we’d find a way to do it that we could actually afford. So I’d say this current situation of skyrocketing debt is us not caring enough about people.
So how do I get a bank to lend me money so I can buy lottery tickets?
Seriously, don’t do that.