The National Debt is currently running around $17.263 Trillion; however, it is most important to understand that it didn’t accumulate in just the past few years. Rather, it has built-up over many years, and numerous Administrations and Congresses–and both political parties were party to it. So, what has built-up over decades can only be eliminated over the decades to come. In fact, you can track the National Debt, on this U. S. Treasury web site, over time, going all the way back to 1790, http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/pd/histdebt/histdebt.htm.
Currently, the Opposition Party–the GOP–is accusing the Administration of President Barack Obama of running-up the Debt. But, you cannot have it both ways–turning a blind eye to one Party’s Deficits, while castigating another for them. Both Parties need to cooperate, at least on this one issue–paying-down the National Debt. But, can they?
Given the current political Environment in Washington, D. C., however, I don’t believe that we will see any progress on reducing the Debt at this time. In fact, today’s Republican Party is fighting with itself; so, how can it cooperate with the Democrats? In fact, there has been considerable backlash against both Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), from the GOP’s Conservative Elements, over their voting for a “Clean” Debt-Limit Increase last week.
Congress will need to wean itself from the practice of spending like “drunken sailors” (sorry, Swabbies) and focus on the issues behind Legislation, rather than how much “pork” (pet projects) they can add. It seems like they sit around a table and trade: “I’ll vote for that project in your District (State), if you’ll vote for this one in mine”. Several years ago, Congress claimed that “Pork Barrel Politics” was a thing of the past. Well, if you believe that one, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.
In previous Blog Posts, I have noted several examples of Pork: the $200 Million to build the “Bridge to Nowhere”, connecting a sparsely-populated island with very little traffic, to the Mainland in Alaska; the John Murtha International Airport, near Johnstown, Pa., which only has a few flights In-or-Out each week; forcing NASA to continue to fund a program to test rocket engines, at the Stennis Flight Center, in Miss., when the actual rocket program was terminated in 2010; the ridiculously inefficient manner of spreading the assembly and construction of the Pentagon’s “Toys of War” over a multitude of Congressional Districts; and, of course, the role of Lobbyists throughout Washington, which might be the biggest reason for inflating the Federal Budget.
Here are some questions that I would ask:
1. Why did the Last Administration award so many No-Bid Contracts, each for millions
and millions of Dollars, in Iraq? Did we really need to out-source food service,
motor pool operations and security–in a War Zone?
2. Why is the Pentagon involved in the determination to sell Military Equipment (planes, tanks, ships, missiles, etc.) to our Allies? Shouldn’t that be handled totally in the State Department? Surely State has the necessary resources.
3. Shouldn’t Congress focus on the necessity of funding various projects requested by the various Government Departments and the Budgetary considerations; but, not on where to place them–or forcing unwanted equipment on Departments?
4. Why did the bi-partisan Senate Bill for Immigration Reform have to add Billions of Dollars to double the Boarder Patrol when most Illegals nowadays do not come across a boarder; rather, they just arrive legally on VISAs and, then, stay past the expiration date?
5. How about the Government budget practice of “Use it or Lose it”, which causes many Departments to go on “Shopping Sprees” toward the end of the Fiscal Year, which is every September 30? Wouldn’t it make more sense to actually reward a Department that can spend within its means?
I’m sure that I could go on and on about such unnecessary spending, and I believe that readers could each add a few more. Instead, Congress seems to focus on which Programs they can cut, and which they can protect, all in the sense of making a deal. But, cutting Programs for political or ideological reasons–or to appease Special Interest Groups, is not the best way to provide Fiscal Sanity.