Some ideas for cutting the U.S. budget
By Isaac Yetiv , Ph. D.
Isaac Yetiv, PhD
LA JOLLA, California –Among the many symptoms of our economic disease, the most ominous ones are the 23 million Americans unemployed and the more than 16 trillion dollars of national debt. There has been an ominous crescendo in the national debt: In 1990, it was 3 trillion; in 2008,10 Tr; in 2010, 14 Tr; and today, we owe the world 16.3 trillion which, divided by 320 million Americans, comes up to more than 50,000 dollars per person, man, woman, child. Imagine a familly of five asked to repay a quarter of a million dollars!!
How did we get here? Simply through the carelessness and gross–in my opinion,criminal– negligence of the previous federal governments and of this one, presided by Obama who, in less than four years, added close to 6 trillion (compared to George W. Bush who added three and a half trillion in eight years, no small “feat” either.)
Without being scientific and exhaustive, one has only to follow the news to be alarmed at the magnitude of waste, mismanagement, and fraud that are occurring in the public sector, at all levels.
It is high time for the governments to eliminate unneeded agencies, to trim absolutely necessary ones, and to reduce regulations, red tape,and bureaucratic entanglements., which are very costly.
As examples,there are 150,000 pages of Medicare regulations, 64,500 pages of IRS regulations, and 2,700 pages of Obamacare.
There is no reason for wasteful duplications, or rather multiplications, such as 87 programs to “help” fight unemployment , 29 programs to manage the foodstamps –the number of Americans on foodstamps has, alarmingly, increased under Obama from 32 million to 47 million–, and 49 training programs. Is that so impossible to consolidate?
Why are 14,000 federal buildings empty and much money spent on their upkeep? Why are they not sold, or filled, or rented out? Why does it take 20 (!) steps for the “Commission” to sell federal property? which explains why they don’t sell.
Why do functionaries of the government , GSA and others, use borrowed taxpayer’s money to meet at expensive hotels in Florida and spend millions of dollars (as we have detailed in our previous writings under the title “Scandals”)? That should be prohibited. Job-required meetings should be held in the offices and larger halls on the premises. More vexing, GSA spent $ 268,000 on “bonuses for celebrity”(?)
In these dire times, even official personal expenses should be reduced to a minimum. Has anyone counted how many times our Secretary of State went flying over the world , and staying with her huge entourage in very expensive hotels, requiring a very expensive security? That could certainly be trimmed.She represents a superpower and the world leaders who are anxious to see her know where she is. This makes for good material for her next lucrative book, but we pay the bills now.
That applies to the president, any president, and certainly to unelected individuals such as the presidents’ families and former presidents. As we wrote elsewhere, it was absolutely scandalous for Mrs Obama to spend $ 467,585 on a trip to Spain (with 15 crew members, Secret Service, 6 guests and their 4 daughters) after she had spent half a million dollars on a trip to South-Africa–these figures are known only after Judicial Watch sued under Freedom of Information Act.
It is also time to reconsider providing, and paying, for security for former presidents and maybe others. It is very expensive and should be limited to official , not private, business, and for a limited time after they leave office, not for life.
In the last few years, there have been many reports on the Obama administration officials ”giving” money at their discretion, in the US and overseas, for political or ideological reasons, without approval of the Congress which, constitutionally, holds “the power of the purse.” Examples: Hillary Clinton “gave” 2 billion dollars at a “Climate Change International” gathering, as a downpayment on a project
that will cost the “world” 100 billion., and hundreds of millions to Gaza and Africa. There was talk of “forgiving” Egypt one billion dollars even after the Muslim Brotherhood took power. And the Obama administration gave billions of dollars to Brasil, Argentina and Colombia to drill for oil while prohibiting drilling in US land and shores.
President Obama “invested” huge amounts (a total of 91 billion, as Romney said in the first debate) on “renewable energy” to domestic and foreign companies, which were, or about to be, bankrupt : 535 million in Solyndra; 730 million in Leverstal (Russia) ; 529 million in Fisker (Finland) etc.
Is the federal government in the business of “investing”? After “stimulating” and “bailing out”? I haven’t yet received any answer from Congress if they have approved this WASTEful “spending”
In my opinion, the government should not “invest” but just facilitate (tax, regulation) and oversee (security, safety, law observance.)
Other areas of waste and fraud are well known such as Medicare (62 billion last year, and maybe every year), and the obsolete and useless military bases here and overseas (in the tens of billions yearly) which the politicians avoid like the plague because they loathe to antagonize this or that constituency.
According to Fareed Zakaria, the Defense department owns 571,200 facilities, in more than 3,700 sites, on 30 million acres, a network of 766 bases in 40 foreign countries that were worth 127 billion dollars in 2005. In them, 197,000 uniformed personnel plus an equal number of dependents plus civilian officials plus 81,000 foreign hires. The cost to the taxpayers is in the tens of billions. The numbers are mind-boggling. They can certainly be trimmed to a low percentage.
For these, and similar “third rail” issues, I advised elsewhere to appoint NON-partisan –not Bi-partisan- commissions to handle them, objectively, without fear of retribution by the voters.
This state of affairs is in part responsible for the economic malaise that has created 23 million unemployed and a dangerous increase in the number of foodstamps recipients whose number went , in the last four years, from 32 million to 47 million, and in the money spent on disability benefits that rose incomprehensively from 20.2 billion in 2002 to 78 billion –almost quadrupled– in 2012. Even in these programs, the waste and fraud are enormous and can be ameliorated without harming those who need assistance.
I call for the creation of a cabinet position whose sole function will be to eliminate waste of any kind, –past ,present, and future–and save hundreds of billions that will be earmarked for reducing the deficit and/or the national debt This should be coupled with legislation to compel all levels of government to balance their budgets and a prohibition of borrowing. Romney has promised something in that vein ; I hope Obama will do the same.
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Posted by admin
on Oct 24 2012. Filed under AAA--USA
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