I don’t believe the current President or Congress can get a balanced Federal Budget going, not in this term or even next. Why? Because there is to much cronyism going on and not a whole lot of looking real solutions to our real problems. Since Obama has been President accusations of socialism, redistribution of wealth, crony capitalism, debt ceilings and balance budget amendments have been bantered about back and forth and no one has bothered to address the real issues. So I am going to put forth my plan, which I admit is more of an outline than an actual plan but at least I will tell you that upfront. Concerning a balanced budget amendment, Sorry folks this is not gonna happen and should not happen. There are to many unforeseen events that could effect the entire country to allow something like this to tie our hands. If there was a balanced budget amendment there would have been no way to pay for World War 2 as an example. As much as I think the budget should be balanced I would be insane if I agreed that this was a good idea. So I am taking it off the table right at the start.
2. Reduce Fraud and Waste.
This seems like a no brainer but it should be the first target in any reduction of spending or costs. Not only does fraud and waste hurt the taxpayer it hurts recipients of government programs as well. I don’t mean just entitlement program recipients either, it hurts everyone and as such should be priority one for tracking down and eliminating. Now all politicians say they want to eliminate fraud and waste but the truth is very little action takes place to track it down and find it. Increasing department transparency on budget items and funding is the first place to start. Next having the auditors go over their expenses and outlays with a fine tooth comb. All departments should perform a internal audit every year and an external audit every three years.
3. Reduce Administrative Costs.
In Canada and the UK the average cost of administrative services for their healthcare program is 2 percent. Ours for Medicaid and Medicare is 7 percent. Assuming nothing else is done to healthcare those cost have to come down. We can do this with salary caps, proper procedures and other methods. While we are reducing administrative costs for all programs we can work towards streamlining programs that are long term programs and make them more responsive to the duties and services they perform and that would help lower costs.
4. Review all Federal Regulations
We have an enormous amount of federal regulations and to be honest we probably don’t need all of them. My suggestion is we form a by partisan sunset committee to review regulations and perform a cost/benefit analysis of those regulations. We do the same with Federal laws. Lets look and see if we really need these laws and regulations and if they perform they way they should. By eliminating ones we don’t need we can help lower costs.
5. Cut all Departmental Spending
We can reduce the budget of each department by a minimum of 5 percent without effecting services. Some departments may even be able to cut higher but we start with preserving essential services and cut an instant 5 percent. After those cuts are implemented we start looking at each department and programs to find none essential services that can be reduced or cut.
6. Reduce Federal Foreign Aid.
While I am so happy that we give money for AIDs reduction programs in Africa and hunger programs I personally feel that money should be spent here first. We have people going hungry here and we have AIDS here and if we can develop solutions to those problems THEN we can export those solutions to others if they wish. Some aid is defense and security related but it should only be in cases where it is necessary for national security. Not to mention no more nation building! PERIOD. (I am saving that for a different article.)
7. Provide New Revenue Streams.
This usually means raising taxes and in a way sure but I think it should be limited. First raising the capital gains tax and taxes on hedge funds and securities I think should take place. I don’t think we should tax ourselves to oblivion but a moderate increase in these taxes would be fine. Second, eliminate tax loopholes for corporations and individuals. We can eliminate the loopholes with out raising individual taxes. We are closing ways people game the system not arbitrarily raising taxes. I know it sounds like something the Republicans have proposed recently but my plan goes into corporations and not just individuals. Of course there is the tired old cry that this will hurt the job creators. Well yes… if by hurt you mean they pay what they are supposed to pay then sure, go with that. IF by hurt you mean we are raising taxes… no. Corporations who use off shore shelters and taxing schemes to avoid paying taxes is what we are closing. It won’t hurt job creation and in fact it will promote job creation. If these companies want to make more money they will have to do it my producing more and sales not by gaming a broken system.
8. Eliminate Medicare and Medicare and replace with a better system.
In the article I wrote before this one concerning healthcare reform I discussed a way to provide universal or near universal healthcare without breaking the bank by using a combination of regulation and free market solutions. In doing so we can eliminate the need for a governmental run Medicare and Medicaid. We can replace both with a system that I think works better and requires less federal money.
9. Raise the Social Security Age.
I don’t want to eliminate Social Security but the fact that people are living and working longer has to be taken into account. By raising the age we help mitigate some of the pressure by aging baby boomers.
10. Repeal No Child Left Behind
I am all for no child being left behind in education but we have to be realistic and look at the unfunded mandate that NCLB does. I support what I call, Standards of Education. Mandated minimum levels of science, math, language, and social sciences be implemented across the States. Teachers who are held accountable but not due to student testing. Student testing is not an accurate way of testing knowledge and most teachers end of teaching to the test. Having standardized tests as a way to monitor student progress is one thing but using it as a benchmark criteria hurts in the long run. A few examples of Standards of Education that I would use are. Same length of school days for all contiguous 48 states. Alaska and Hawaii are exceptions based on location. All schools start at 7:30 and go to 3:30 with a hour lunch period. All schools start at the same time of year and go the same amount of days per school year. The school year starts the third Monday in August and goes till the second week of June every year for all schools. (based on local time of course.) Standardized testing is given at second grade, 5th grade and 11th grade for student progress monitoring only. Schools who are under performing are to eliminate all extra curricular activities until such time as academic progress is restored.
There are other national standards I would propose. No more than 25 students per classroom per teacher. Meaning no teacher teaches more than 25 students at a time. Each class is limited to no more than 1 hour 10 minutes and be the equivalent of 3 college semester hours per school semester by the senior year. (Adjusted for age of course.) It is important to note that I am not saying what history has to be taught or what science etc that is left to the states but I am only creating national standards for how much is taught not what specifically.
11. Reduce Defense Spending
Now this usually gets neo-cons up in arms but I am not talking about reducing our warfighting capabilities. We can reduce cost overrun in defense programs, require contractor produce proof of concept on their own dime etc etc. There are ways to reduce defense spending to manageable levels without effecting our capabilities. We can start by removing troops from Afghanistan and other places that our troops should not be in the first place.
12. Eliminate Union Actions Concerning National Infrastructure.
Now I am all for collective bargaining rights but at the same time some common sense has to be introduced. The right to strike has to be balanced by the necessity to maintain essential services. Police, Fire, Port personnel, Air Traffic and other national infrastructure workers should not be allowed to strike. When a strike in these systems occurs it hurts not only the companies and governmental agencies providing these services it hurts the citizens as well. We can replace this by arbitration and other avenues with out giving workers the chance to hold citizens basically hostage. For example, I am against teacher strikes. I understand they might have a legitimate grievance and I think it should be addressed through mandatory arbitration not by striking. The kids that are in the schools obviously didn’t ask to be there, they have to be there so why can’t their teachers be forced to do the same? I know some people support unions and that is fine but in essential services, the right to strike isn’t a right it is a means to hurt other people and effect public safety. While a union person may have the right to free speech that right can be limited in the cases of public safety.
13. Proper Infrastructure and Highway Spending.
First off I feel there should be a national law that basically says you can have a toll road but once the road is paid for it reverts to a none pay road. I think the Federal Government should invest properly in transportation projects what benefit the most people for the least amount of money. Limit Federal spending to transportation that crosses more than two states to be eligible for federal funds. Let the states most of the highway money they get with them paying a percentage to the federal government for use on federal projects.
These are just a few things that we can do to cut federal spending with out having to put on the gimp suit and wait for austerity measure to come from Congress. The same people who can’t seem to agree on anything and much less agree we need to fix a broken system. Both sides are to entrenched to see the forest for the trees and develop realistic solutions to the real problems we face as a country.