There’s likely no bigger item making the rounds of political news sources these days than our (desperate) need to balance the national budget.
As a fiscal conservative myself, I echo these sentiments, but since the politicians currently in office seem more-or-less unconcerned about it, and since the “Party of No” didn’t have a much better track record when THEY last held power (counting the stuff that Bush kept off the books, the deficit was $1.7 Trillion when Obama took office, vs. his (most recent, at the time of this writing) deficit of $1.9 Trillion, so the two are virtually identical from a fiscal standpoint), I’ve decided to take it upon myself to do it for them.
What follows then, is one of several plans I’ve developed (eight and counting, so far) to balance the national budget and give us a small surplus which we can use to begin retiring our massive debt.
I have no doubt that there isn’t a politician alive with the balls to actually take this proposal and run with it, but if such a man or woman DID exist…that, my friends, would be political news worth reporting!
The changes this document proposes will most assuredly not be popular, and would be savagely resisted if anyone were ever to seriously propose them, but they would most assuredly get the job done, which is probably why no one will ever take them seriously.
That said, here’s my plan of attack:
At the present time, we are running a 1.9 Trillion Dollar deficit in our federal budget, so through some combination of tax increases and service reductions, we need to come up with this dollar amount. Actually, I’m going to be shooting for cool 2 Trillion dollars, which will give us at least some money to begin retiring the debt. Retiring the debt will ease our interest burden, which, if we use that additional savings to ALSO retire debt, will see us in a slowly improving financial position, and wouldn’t that be refreshing!
So…the first thing: Effective immediately, stop all corporate welfare, which amounts to some $140 Billion dollars a year (this number based on the 92B 2006 data available, and taking the lowest estimate of corporate welfare sucked from states, which is then made up for by the federal government infusing money into the states to keep them from going bankrupt)–this could easily be $100B higher if the median estimate was used as a baseline. Corporations routinely take advantage of generous tax breaks while the tax holidays are in effect, only to shut down operations the day the holidays expire, and yet, this never manages to make the political news segments of ANY of the major networks. . This is a case of what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, and it’s time for big business to pony up, so…no more subsidies. Hand over that cash! (note, the $92B could be as high as 125B, see http://www.virginia-organizing.org/articles/corporate_welfare.php) – I wasn’t sure where these figures came from, so I didn’t use them, but if accurate, this could add another $33B a year to the ultimate savings, below).
Second, let’s start holding companies fully accountable for cleaning up their own damned messes. This would free up an estimated additional 100 billion dollars a year, so in two strokes of the pen, we’ve already dealt a significant blow to the shortfall. (Running total: $240B)
Third, audit the government top-to-bottom. Wasteful spending ALONE make up a staggering (est.) $410 Billion of spending, and this is the so-called “low hanging fruit” that’s easy to recoup. (Running total: $650B)
When you factor in redundant departments and things better handled by states (Federal oversight and state-level implementations), you can recoup an additional ~$200B (Running total: $850B)
Fourth, military spending, and spending related TO the military. This amounts to an estimated $1.4 Trillion (http://www.warresisters.org/pages/piechart.htm). Let’s slice a cool 10% from this, recouping a neat $140B, and don’t worry, we’ll still be spending more than the next dozen or so nations combined, so I don’t think we’ll be in any immediate danger. 😉 (running total = $990B).
Fifth, we’ll slice social security and medicare by an equal measure (10%), and do this hand in hand with pushing the retirement age to 70, so as to preserve the solidity of the trust, and to hold true to the original vision of the safety net (when it was implemented, lifespans were significantly shorter than they are at present…social security was never designed to support mass millions for decades…this will help to remedy that without financially endangering current recipients. Also, we’ll implement a 1% increase in the FICA tax. Collectively then, this should save or raise somewhere in the neighborhood of $100B (Running total $1090B).
Sixth, close loopholes in corporate tax policies, increasing revenues to the tune of an estimated $100B (again, this benefit is mostly to the states, which means that the federal government still gets to count the benefit, as the federal government is not shelling out money to support the bankrupted states). (Running total $1190B)
Seventh, begin strenuously enforcing the “2-years and you’re out” program re: welfare. Hand in hand with this, allow some federal funds to flow into charitable organizations to help them become a viable secondary layer of the national safety net (estimated to save $80B) (Running total $1270B)
Eighth, increase estate taxes, and close loopholes on taxes for the wealthy, which should see revenues increase by approximately ~EST $150B. (Running total $1420B)
Ninth, explore the idea of taxing the Fed. I have no way of knowing if this plan is viable, and if so, how much money could potentially be raise here, but I don’t think it would hurt to ask the question and explore it honestly.
Tenth, seek alternate methods of funding. Hire NASA experts and facilities out to private industries. We can lease spare satellite capacity to other countries, or even to private industry, should they have need of it. There’s at least $200B in income producing potential in the assets we have available (Running total: $1620B)
Eleventh, raise income taxes and tariffs in line with the plans already on the table (the combination of tax breaks expiring and new taxes is slated to raise an additional ~$420B) (Running Total: $2040B, or, 2.004 Trillion Dollars). (note: could be as high as $2173B in total savings, see above, the entries on corporate taxes and corporate welfare)
We could do this next year.
If this report ever surfaces in or on the political news segments of any of the major networks, I’d be shocked. If any politician (at ANY level) read it and started talking about the merits of anything found here, I’d likely keel over dead in surprise (which is a think I am certain many of my readers would not object to 😉 ), but no worries. It won’t happen, because our current breed of politician was born without conscience or spinal column. In short, they will ride this train until it collides with the mountain of fiscal irresponsibility. Maybe a couple decades of German-style hyperinflation will cure us. I truly hope it doesn’t come to that, but it probably will, because our political news analysts simply aren’t talking about this stuff in any serious kind of way. Simply put, no one can be arsed to care, and that’s a shame.
If finance and budgets are your strong suit, consider earning an online master degree in
Graphics Credit: http://ireneolszewski.com/ctlawblog/2010/05/26/balancing-the-budget/