Let the games begin! A newly submitted federal budget marks the first true attempt in years to reduce the size and spending habits of the federal government. But spending reductions also mean the loss of pet projects and programs that have become ingrained in our give-away society. Thus, virtually everyone agrees that spending cuts are needed but no one wants the cuts to hit their pocketbooks. And this hypocritical attitude strikes both Republicans and Democrats.
Sen. Christopher Bond on Friday defended the need to retain farm programs that involve crop research. Many of those projects are targeted for cuts under the new federal budget. And Bond, a fairly consistent conservative, thinks the cuts should not strike the agricultural community so he'll fight to retain that spending.
Congressman Emanuel Cleaver from Kansas City rallied urban leaders from six states Friday to argue against proposed cuts in housing and Community Development Block Grants for urban centers. Those funds are aimed primarily at low income Americans and Cleaver feels that segment of the population is too fragile to withstand cuts. When asked where cuts should come, Cleaver said he did not have an answer.
Leaders across the country are pointing to programs - such as transportation - that should be retained. NASA officials are bemoaning cuts in their program that will delay space research.
In short, everyone agrees cuts are essential as long as those cuts don't impact their region or their constituents. And it's that attitude that will likely doom any progress toward controlling federal spending.
If you accept the notion that social welfare programs and defense programs should not be reduced, then you'll never control federal spending. Those twin areas of federal expenditures grow far faster than the tax income is able to support. So if you defend the rising cost of addressing the poor and the vulnerable without end, then you must support higher taxes. And if you support higher taxes, you must understand that will strike the businesses, industries and upper income earners. And finally, you must understand that will mean much higher prices for all consumers and the spiral continues. I think we need a cabinet-level office to address waste and fraud. If that criminal area of federal spending were controlled, much of our financial discussion would be moot. And all of the worries about higher taxes and program reductions would be but a memory.
Accept this simple premise. Either we reduce spending or we each pay more out of our paychecks to support these programs. It's really that simple. I, for one, am tired of working five months out of the year to support federal and state programs that are questionable in their purpose and fail to achieve their stated goals. And I strongly suggest I am not alone.