A year richly spent

From a government touting austerity, 2013 saw more binge spending

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The big New Year’s resolution many of us make is to slim down. Cut the fat. Get healthier.

If only government could make that resolution and keep it.

Last year was supposed to be the year of fiscal austerity. Conservatives supposedly achieved enough momentum to effect meaningful cuts to reckless spending, and to shrink government.

So what happened? Far too little.

“Republicans in Congress had forced a historic shift: Washington, for the first time in years, was focused on cutting, not growing, the budget,” explained Washington Post congressional beat writer David A. Fahrenthold. “But then, politicians in both parties choked on the decisions that came next: Where to cut. Who to hurt. What to kill. Instead, they allowed sequestration, a policy that – at least in theory – cut the good and the bad equally.”

But cutting the good and the bad actually is closer to all bad. Why institute $42.7 billion in defense cuts and $595 million in border security cuts in Fiscal Year 2013 when there still are virtually countless examples of wasteful expenditures floating around, such as $5 million in crystal glassware purchased by the State Department, or a $98,670 single-toilet outhouse on an Alaskan trailhead?

Here’s why: Too many of our lawmakers cave when it comes to making choices that, to the average taxpayer, appear to be simple common sense.

“The only way Congress can make cuts is across the board, because they have trouble making decisions,” Robert L. Bixby told the Post. He’s executive director of the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan group seeking to reduce the federal deficit. “If you’re trying to limit the scope of government, or the function, it doesn’t accomplish that goal at all. It just gives you less money to accomplish the same goals, which is why it doesn’t really work over the long term.”

Here’s just one item that typifies the insanity of sequester cuts: In Cartersville, Ga., there’s an airfield where a contractor collects $6,600 a month from the federal government for a plane that doesn’t fly.

The Aero Marti plane is outfitted with equipment to send uncensored TV broadcast signals to communist Cuba. But Cuba jammed the signals almost immediately after the plane first took flight, and only about 1 percent of Cubans were found to have even watched the programming anyway.

But Congress, when tasked to actually cut specific programs this year, inexplicably refused to cut Aero Marti loose. And across-the-board sequester cuts stripped Aero Marti of its funding for fuel and pilots.

So there the plane sits in Cartersville, useless. And taxpayers, it’s on your dime.

And don’t think we got even a dime’s worth of progress out of the budget compromise struck recently by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.

“We didn’t get everything we wanted,” Murray told NBC’s Meet the Press. “But I’ll tell you what we did get is certainty for the next couple years.”

Certainty of what? That the can has been sufficiently kicked far enough down the road? The deal does little more than boost deficit spending now in exchange for supposed cuts later. Romina Boccia, the Grover M. Hermann Fellow in Federal Budgetary Affairs for the Heritage Foundation, has
pointed out that “half of the deficit reduction included in this deal wouldn’t occur until after 2022.”

Possibly the most galling aspect of bureaucratic profligacy is that the federal government takes in trillions – about $3 trillion in fiscal 2013, by one estimate – yet the money’s use and the inefficiency of its distribution never seems to be questioned.

This year needs to be the year that our elected representatives start asking the right questions to make the right fiscal decisions for our nation.

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deestafford 01/05/14 - 01:27 am
Very, very few people really realize...

Very, very few people really realize how dire our financial situation has become. Our debt is $17, (17 trillion) and growing rapidly. It is estimated that the unfunded liabilities the government has is over $90 trillion. Medicare and medicaid (which are not in the Constitution) takes almost 40% of the budget; whereas, defense (which is in the Constitution as a responsibility) of takes about 18% of the budget.

The government consumes about 25% of our GDP. That means of all the goods and services annually produced in total in the US, one-quarter is taken by the government.

Keep in mind the government makes and produces nothing without first taking it from the private sector first.

Approximately one-half of the new jobs "created" by the government in recent years has been local, state, and federal jobs. Where does the money come that pays the salaries? It comes out of the economy in the guise of confiscated taxes that would have been better spent by the private sector.

The problem is the politicians have no guts. They are operating as a democracy rather than as a republic in that they have learned the way to stay in power is to raid the treasury and pass out the goodies to their voters. The number of true statesmen we have in the House and Senate could be counted on two hands...maybe.

ymnbde 01/05/14 - 09:04 am
each day we prove that big government can last one more day

each day a heroin addict proves that heroin addicts can last one more day
this strict dogmatic faith in government is a simple ponzi scheme
with no controlling legal authority
the faithful believe in spite of the known history of big governments
the faithful believe in spite of how badly it educates our children
the faithful believe in spite of how it harms African-Americans
its faithful have no assurance of things hoped for
and believe in spite of the evidence of things seen
it's so easy to accumulate debt
when someone else is responsible for paying it back
there is an optimal size for government, and this isn't it
it has all the future of a heroin addict
and each of us along with it

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 01/05/14 - 10:31 am
Watch Out

To comment on deestafford's comment, we are in a precarious fiscal situation and many senior citizens will be losing wealth very rapidly in 2014 and even more in 2015. Why? before the spring, Congress will celebrate their own wisdom and compassion by re-instating the "extended" federal government unemployment compensation benefits that lapsed on Jan. 1.

Then, to celebrate their commitment to economic "justice," Congress will pass a higher federal minimum wage before Christmas.

Those two items will simultaneously start a snowball of runaway inflation and higher unemployment rates. The inflation will eat into the purchasing power of anyone who has monetary assets in a bank, money market account, bonds, treasury notes, etc.

If you are in debt up to your eyeballs, you will get a little relief from the inflation. But if you have money, you will inevitably have less through the erosion of your purchasing power.

teaparty 01/05/14 - 03:53 pm
well said LL

well said LL

bubbasauce 01/13/14 - 03:03 am
LL, what you say if true is

LL, what you say if true is very scary and I believe it will come to pass. Buckle your seatbelts America!

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