When there is no news of The Controversy between evolution and creationism, we have to turn to other topics. But in doing so we stay somewhat on topic by dealing with our larger concern — preserving the values of the Enlightenment, upon which our civilization depends.
Therefore, dear reader, we beg your indulgence as we post yet another Curmudgeonly rant about politics. Go ahead, skip it if you like and wait for something more on topic. We’ll understand. Anyway, here it comes.
We recently discussed the federal budget here: US Budget: 40 Years in the Wilderness, but other than pointing out the trend, we offered no opinions or solutions. This time it’s different.
The Curmudgeon’s solution to our current difficulty is to have two federal budgets instead of only one. We even have a catchy name for it — the Two-Budget proposal. Quite simply, it divides the current enormous budget into two separate components. Both would be presented to Congress, so they’ll have to pass two budgets instead of one.
The first of these would be called the Constitutional Budget. It would include expenditures for those activities that are clearly authorized in the Constitution — both in Article I, Section 8 and in a few power-granting amendments. That would take care of much of what is currently called “general government” expenditures (Congress, the courts, etc.), plus national defense, veterans’ affairs, Patent Office, Post Office, the mint, etc. (Don’t panic, we regard NASA as a defense expenditure.) We haven’t run the numbers, but the Constitutional Budget would deal with, perhaps, 25% of the spending in the current, all-inclusive budget.
The second budget would be for all other expenditures. We’ll avoid the temptation to give it a pejorative name, and instead we’ll just call it the Second Budget. That’s not very imaginative, but we’re trying to be neutral here (well, it’s rather obvious that the Second Budget is for what we consider the unconstitutional part of the government). The Second Budget would include all expenditures for “entitlement” programs of every nature, and also various cabinet posts that aren’t specified in the Constitution (Education, Labor, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, etc.).
We further propose that tax revenue (except for specific-purpose taxes like those designated for social security, etc.) should be first applied to the Constitutional Budget, so it’s likely to be always balanced. In fact, with taxes as high as they currently are, the Constitutional Budget should show a significant surplus, which could justify tax reductions or which could be used to retire some of the national debt. Instead, Congress will be likely to apply the surplus to the Second Budget, which will nevertheless incur a significant deficit, thus increasing the national debt.
The one item of expenditure which gives us pause is interest payments on the national debt. Such payments are clearly a constitutional obligation, and although most debt in the last generation (by our two-budget reckoning) is attributable to the Second Budget, it seems appropriate that interest on the national debt belongs in the Constitutional Budget — where it would be the second-biggest item, exceeded only by defense. That should raise some eyebrows.
What does our Two-Budget proposal accomplish? Nothing concrete, to be sure, but we think it’s a great educational tool. By showing what the government is doing — constitutionally and otherwise — and how it’s being paid for, more people will become aware of what’s going on. Will that solve any problems? Maybe not, and therefore the title of this post is far too ambitious — we haven’t really “solved” the budget crisis, but awareness of the problem is always the first step. That’s the best we can do.
For some of our previous solutions to immense problems, see The Curmudgeon’s Plan To Save The World, and then The Curmudgeon’s Health Care Reform Plan. Yes, everyone ignores us, but that’s okay. We’re used to it.
Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.