Published July 22, 2011
“It costs ten times more to govern us than it used to, and we are not governed one-tenth as good”.
-- Will Rogers
Over the last few weeks and months the President and Congress have been arguing about the need to raise the debt ceiling before August 2, so the country won’t default on its financial obligations and have its American Excess card canceled.
Both are blaming each other over who drove the country into the ditch.
It doesn’t matter who drove it into the ditch. What matters is this: how are we going to get the car out?
Republicans say cut spending and Democrats say raise taxes.
The idea of raising taxes in this shaky economy is out of the question and would only be used to feed Congress’ spending addiction. No need to give the junkies in Washington more dope.
The first thing they need to do is cut spending. Just like most American families have already done.
But how much to cut?
Both parties and the president have been talking about budget cuts as high as $4 trillion over 10 years. Sounds like a big number right? But those cuts are puny in comparison to the magnitude of the problem.
The 2011 budget was $3.8 trillion meaning that the Federal government spends about $10.4 billion a day. So if my public school arithmetic is right the $400 billion is about 40 days worth of spending.
And with the national debt at $14.5 trillion and counting those cuts are chicken feed.
It’s like a family paying the monthly minimum on their credit card. Interest will still add up and it will be years before the debt is paid.
In February 2010 President Obama announced a Debt Commission whose mission was to offer a bipartisan solution. When they reported their recommendations to him in December 2010 he thanked them and then promptly ignored their plan.
To be fair both parties whined and complained about the recommendations and consequently they died a quiet death. No one even attended the funeral.
So if President Obama and Congress are either unwilling , unable or simply won’t cut the government down to size who will?
Maybe it’s time for the people to get a crack at solving the problem.
If this old cowboy ever became president, I would introduce a new word to Washington. It is a word they never use when talking about reducing government or budget cuts. That word is: e-l-i-m-i-n-a-t-e. As in to get rid of completely.
One of my first acts as president would be the creation of an "Elimination Commission." It would be made up of regular folks from across America instead of the ex-politicians, lobbyists, lawyers and permanent political class that populate the 68 square miles surrounded by reality that is Washington.
The Commission’s job would be to eliminate entire departments, agencies and programs that are ineffective, unnecessary, or just cost too dang much for little or no return.
And unlike President Obama -- who created a Debt Commission and then didn’t follow its advice -- I would be guided by what the Elimination Commission says. If it’s good enough with the regular folks on the panel it’s good enough for me.
All cabinet departments, agencies and programs would have to appear before the Elimination Commission to justify their existence and convince the Commission why they shouldn’t be eliminated. They would have just 20 minutes to make their case. Why? Because as they say, time is money.
The model for the Elimination Commission would be the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) that was formed in the late 1980’s in order to close military bases that had outlived their usefulness and realigned others to save money and make the military more efficient. And just like BRAC the Elimination Commission’s recommendations would be given to Congress for an up or down vote. No amendments, no changes and no special interest lobbying.
Ronald Reagan once said, “The closest thing we will ever see to eternal life on this earth is a government program”.
He was right.
In 1898 Congress passed a 3% excise tax on long distance phone calls to pay for the Spanish American War. The war began and ended that same year but the tax lasted for 108 years until it was finally eliminated in 2006.
We don’t have 108 years to eliminate unnecessary government programs, agencies and departments.
We need to start right now.
Patrick Dorinson blogs at "The Cowboy Libertarian" and he can be heard on a radio program with the same name on Sundays, from 3-5 p.m. PT on KFBK radio.