With the most recent debt ceiling increase, the nation's borrowing limit jumped to $16.394 trillion. An individual's share will be $52,402.28, give or take, which comes out to about $210,000 for a family of four. More outrageous, the United States Senate has not passed a budget in more than 1,000 days. It is no wonder the spending in Washington is out of control.
If the American household can cut back, surely the federal government can find a way to save 1% -- just one penny for every dollar. Congress and the President should agree to cut 1% from the federal budget each year until balance is reached. This 1% reduction would be a real cut in spending, not just a reduction in the rate of growth of government. Once a balanced budget is reached, then spending could again be allowed to grow, but at rates consistent with the growth in the overall economy so that relative fiscal balance is maintained. A 1% reduction in spending does not necessarily mean a 1% across-the-board cut. Proper budgeting requires setting priorities and making decisions -- it is about making trade-offs between competing wants and limited resources.
*INSTITUTE A BALANCED BUDGET AMENDMENT
Families and small businesses must balance their budgets; I believe our government must do the same. This will prevent deficit spending except during emergencies, such as war or natural catastrophes. Almost every state has a legal requirement of a balanced budget; the federal government should have one, too.
Budgeting for agencies and programs should start at zero and not be based on whatever amount was allocated the previous period. This will force the justification of all expenditures. It is easy for agencies to simply say we need more this year, but requiring them to prove the need for every dollar is a step in the right direction to curb government waste.
*INCORPORATE ALL SPENDING IN THE BUDGET
Include the receipts and disbursements of Social Security as well as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the budget. In 2010, the federal government outlaid more than half a trillion dollars in funds that were not considered to be within the budget. Families and small businesses cannot simply ignore spending and liabilities by keeping it out of their budget; the federal government should not be able to do so either.
*ELIMINATE OUTDATED/INEFFECTIVE AND DUPLICATIVE PROGRAMS
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report xviii examining 34 missions of the federal government, identifying hundreds of duplicative and overlapping programs costing approximately $217 billion a year. GAO stated that "reducing or eliminating duplication, overlap, or fragmentation could potentially save billions of taxpayer dollars annually and help agencies provide more efficient and effective services." GAO found there are 47 separate job training programs, 88 economic development programs, 82 teacher quality programs, and 56 financial literacy programs. Additionally, laws should include sunset provisions that require programs to be reviewed every five or ten years. If a program is effective and needed, it will continue; but if it is not, it should be revised or canceled. The President agrees, as witnessed by his State of the Union address and his recent proposal to consolidate agencies, including the Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration.
Projects should be funded on their merits and not based on the connections of those who support them. In FY 2010, Congress approved more than 9,000 earmarks costing taxpayers close to $16 billion. According to research from Harvard Business School, the increased federal spending causes local companies to lose sales and cut back on research, payroll and other expenses. The research shows federal dollars "directly supplant private sector activity -- they literally undertake projects the private sector was planning to do on its own."