Federal Budget: Part 3: On Spending

Budgets have two primary activities: revenue (income) and costs (spending). A deficit occurs when spending exceeds income. Aren’t these two activities also important for a business’s bottom line? Aren’t these the same two premises important to our personal finances?

Many voters know that our federal government is inefficient and fiscally irresponsible. Senator McCain does blast earmarking, and to his defense, he’s hasn’t accepted earmarks. On the other hand, isn’t voting for a bill containing earmarks the same as accepting earmarks? Unquestionably yes. Senator McCain may not like pork, but he does enjoy the smell of bacon.

On the other hand, even if all earmarks were eliminated (and all else remained the same), a big annual deficit still exists, thus increasing the total debt. Senator Obama favors additional government for programs such as health care, meaning increased spending – thus the issue remains. Libertarians generally have a stronger stance regarding spending.

Many companies are in the news regarding layoffs to control spending. How often do we hear about the federal government downsizing? How often do congressional and White House staffs undergo a reduction in force?

The conservative Heritage Foundation provides the following graph showing spending over time. Consider going to the link to view other graphs about spending. (Once on the site, see the Next button in the lower right corner.)

Households From U.S. Bureau of the Census, Outlays from FY 2009 Historical Tables, Budget of the United States Government, Table 8.1.

Source: Households From U.S. Bureau of the Census, Outlays from FY 2009 Historical Tables, Budget of the United States Government, Table 8.1.

Many people know that federal spending is out of control, yet voters continue favoring incumbents and their spending habits. Today, the American saving rate is paltry; actually negative the past several years. Therefore, is it possible that voters are electing officials with the similar fiscal policies as the ones practiced in their own lives?

Next Post: The Budget Dilemma

McCain’s Dilemma Menu

As an independent voter, I found John McCain’s speech interesting. He’s not a gifted orator, nor does he claim to be. The speech wasn’t filled with red meat, but that’s his style. In some ways it had a populist theme. I even thought about what if he won in 2000.

Sure the ardent partisans are either filled with moans or cheers, but any open listener heard an example of how the events in his life have shaped his political values. Surely anyone can give him that much credit.

Although I don’t buy into the GOP rhetoric that only Republicans are about “Country First” nor do I believe that particular slogan in terms of the Republican platform. I do believe that Country First is an important mantra in Senator McCain’s life: his life as a public servant and his life as a citizen. So what’s on the dilemma menu?

1) Senator McCain is against special interests, but stands in front of a party loaded with them. If any doesn’t believe that, they are only fooling themselves. Those who believe that only the GOP is armed with special interests are just as naïve.
2) Senator McCain is against pork-barrel spending. AMEN! Our government’s fiscal management is and has been pathetic. But in that convention hall were many members of Congress who thrive an earmarks. Earmarking is not limited to Democrats. Also in attendance were citizens from communities who received (and even asking for) earmarks. Is the good senator willing to take on his own party? Will his party really follow?

3) If Senator McCain wins, I trust he will reach across party lines because he’s done it before. In a time filled with animosity toward the other side of the aisle, will the citizens of this country learn how to do the same? Will our servants in Washington follow his lead? Will the GOP allow and support this bold, best interest of the people, approach?

I live in southwest Ohio, but not in the same district as House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner. Rep. Boehner numerous comments clearly demonstrate a “Republican First” approach. He also leads one of the largest PACs for the party. As party leader, will change to serve the people instead of the party? If not, will any members of Congress breakaway from his leadership? I must also say that if anyone doesn’t think Rep. Pelosi is immune from this attitude and behavior, they are just as blind.

4) The next two months will have many campaign appearances throughout the country. Appearing on the same stage will be a local representative or senator. The very same ones practicing party-first politics and supporting earmarks. What will Senator McCain say to the people, yet support the party? What will he tell the servants in private?

5) While standing for a similar message in 2000, the far right smeared John McCain. Although he cast them as evil, he knew he needed them if he would ever run for national office in the future. He picked himself up, sucked up his pride, and moved to establish common ground.

The same far right was been less than enamored with him during this election year, but he won them over with Governor Pilan. Can he be successful reaching across the aisle and keep the support of the far right; the same group with little-to-no room for common ground? Crossing the aisle means more than welcoming others to join you. If elected, can he successfully play both sides of the fence within a party and between parties? Will the far right throw John McCain under the bus again?

6) Last, but not least, there’s the party faithful within the electorate. Think about the casual applause at each convention when one candidate praised and honored the other. Do the red-meat-thriving faithful understand the meaning of Country First for the people, not the party? Do they know when and how to give and take for the good of all? How will the electorate react if their representative’s behavior is contrary to the location of the meat case?

Yes, John McCain can march to his own drummer and loves our country. However, party politics is its own dilemma.