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home : opinion : news views May 24, 2016

3/23/2013 12:03:00 AM
Government Continues Spending
Gary Gerard
Times-Union General Manager

OK, so the U.S House passed a budget plan on Thursday.
Here’s an excerpt from a story filed Thursday afternoon by the Associated Press.
The Republican-controlled House passed a tea party-flavored budget plan Thursday that promises sharp cuts in safety-net programs for the poor and a clampdown on domestic agencies, in sharp contrast to less austere plans favored by President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies.
The measure, similar to previous plans offered by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., demonstrates that it's possible, at least mathematically, to balance the budget within a decade without raising taxes.
But its deep cuts to programs for the poor like Medicaid and food stamps and its promise to abolish so-called “Obamacare” are nonstarters with the president, who won re-election while campaigning against Ryan's prior budgets. It passed on a mostly party-line 221-207 vote.
Now, after reading that one would think there’s some really serious cutting going on. And if you read the whole story, you get the sense that the reductions are dire.
It’s not unlike what we were told about the “sequester.” Remember how awful those cuts were going to be? Flights would be grounded because of a lack of air traffic controllers. Food would become unsafe because of a lack of meat inspectors. Teachers, cops and firefighters would be laid off.
Did any of that happen?
Hmmm.
And now, the nonsense continues.
In 2012, the government took in $2.6 trillion and spent $3.7 trillion. That’s a deficit of a cool trillion dollars.
In 2013, the government is projected to take in $2.9 trillion and spend $3.8 trillion. That’s a deficit of $900 billion.
So, in actuality, the government – despite all the sequestering and talk of “sharp cuts” – will spend MORE in 2013 than it did in 2012.
No shock there.
And here are numbers going forward for the next five years. The first number is revenue, the second is spending, the third is the deficit – all in trillions of dollars. (Remember, these are government projections. My experience over the years with these things are that the projections are wildly optimistic with regard to fiscal prudence. The reality is usually much more grim.)
2014 – 3.2 – 3.8 – .6
2015 – 3.4 – 4.0 – .6
2016 – 3.6 – 4.2 – .6
2017 – 3.9 – 4.5 – .6
2018 – 4.1 – 4.7 – .6
So, as any fool can plainly see, the government expects to continue deficit spending for a long time.
And let’s be honest. Nobody believes the budget the U.S. House passed Thursday has a snowball’s chance in Tucson of passing the U.S. Senate, much less being signed into law by the President.
(You did notice the budget included the abolition of Obamacare, right? Do you think the President will sign his signature legislative achievement out of existence?)
And there is no chance of Obama sending a budget to Congress. He hasn’t sent up a budget in years, even thought he’s Constitutionally obligated to do so every February.
Details, details.
Knowing full well the reality of today’s Washington, lawmakers realize that passing a full-fiscal-year budget is a virtual impossibility. So, also on Thursday, the House passed a short-term budget bill aimed at funding the government through the end of September.
That bill – passing with an unheard of bipartisan vote of 318-109 – originated in the House and was amended by the Senate, so now it goes to the President’s desk for a signature.
Wooo Hooo!
“It's a good day for the American people,” said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, shortly after the bill was approved.
Why is it such a good day? Because you were able to stave off an 11th hour panic-mode negotiation to avoid yet another “fiscal crisis” by enacting a 6-month stop gap measure?
Nice work, there, Johnny boy.
Meanwhile, no one has taken even a tiny baby step toward resolving what everyone knows is a looming fiscal crisis facing our nation.
No one is trying to shore up financially challenged programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
No one is talking about meaningful income tax reform that eliminates eventualities like GE and Exxon paying no income tax.
No one is seeking to roll back regulations that encourage companies to ship jobs overseas and park profits offshore.
I have been watching politics for a long time and I don’t recall anything like this.
It’s as if lawmakers really don’t want to fix things. It’s as if they want the whole thing to implode.
They all know they can’t solve anything by telling the Federal Reserve to continue to print money. But so far, that’s pretty much the only solution they’ve come up with.
I guess there were those  various “stimulus” programs that didn’t really stimulate anything and wound up funding a billion dollars worth of bankrupt green energy companies. (Come to think of it, I guess the stimulus did manage to give public employees something to do for awhile. The nice new bumpy curbs in Warsaw come to mind.)
For me, the most troubling aspect of all of this is that there appears to be no end in sight. It just goes on and on.
How many times have you heard a politician tell you we “can’t keep kicking the can down the road?”
Yet that is precisely what they continue to do, time and time again.
It’s truly disheartening.







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