On Government Spending: More Party of ‘No,’ Please
President Obama's offensive budget was just a bargaining position, callously introduced while the country is in peril. Will enough congressmen say "no"?
February 22, 2011 - 12:01 pm
Stop spending money we don’t have. It’s not a hard concept! This is why we hire and pay the salaries of our elected leaders. We send them to Washington to represent our interests and to be good stewards of our hard-earned money. This is their primary job. If there isn’t enough money for their pet projects, their bridges to nowhere, the post office with their name on it, or their latest attempt at social engineering, so be it. It is their job to know the amount of money brought in by taxes and to prioritize the national spending accordingly.
Now, some may think that federal funding of abortion clinics is needed more than defending our borders. Great, debate it and vote. Some might like to fund a study on the proper use of condoms while others would like to make sure our troops have the best technology in hand to defend our nation, another fine debate. But it’s clear now we can’t have it all. So our 535 lawmakers and one president must decide what’s important and spend the money where the majority can agree it’s needed. Congress must no longer be allowed to spend more money than the federal government has. Period. A balanced budget amendment is the only way to do that.
A balanced budget amendment should restrict Congress to spending 20% less than the amount of money brought in, through taxes, in the previous budget year. All surpluses would go into a rainy day fund. Congress shall not spend more than the allowed amount dictated by the balanced budget amendment. The only exception would be national emergencies, emergencies certified by the president, and a 2/3 majority vote in Congress. The needed funds would come from the rainy day fund. That fund could also sustain the government when tax revenue falls short for the current fiscal year.
In a sustained need for more funds, i.e. war, the Congress could only pass tax increases that were subject to annual renewal. Congressmen and senators must also be made responsible for all tax money allocated for federal spending. I’ll leave it to the party bosses to assign each lawmaker based on seniority or expertise. But all dollars spent by Congress should be accountable and traceable to a member of Congress. Congress as a whole would vote on the budget priorities, and assign tax dollars to be overseen by each member. I understand this would take a great deal of our elected officials’ time. That’s the point. If they have to spend time justifying every dollar spent, they’ll be less inclined or less able to spend recklessly.
President Obama’s $3.73 trillion budget is a joke — I don’t think he was serious in proposing it. I believe he didn’t wish to start a negotiation with concessions. In truth, the Republicans’ tactics are similar. They don’t want to lead because they know they’ll be beaten up by the president and his cronies in Congress and the media. No one has pitched reform for our ballooning entitlement programs. Our nation is in real peril, but the president and many Democrats seem in denial and the Republicans seem timid.
Americans are ready to see our government stop spending money it doesn’t have. Will anyone say “no”?