Monday, January 28, 2013

Betty McCollum on the Budget and Spending

At the recent townhall held in Oakdale I posed the question to Betty McCollum, what are you going to do about spending!  First I gave some well deserved cudos to the Oakdale City Council and Staff.  They have done that which is necessary for the State and the Federal governments to learn.  Governor Dayton should be listening.
Of the legislative bodies represented up in front, I believe Carmen and the City of Oakdale and the Staff are the only ones who have had a balanced budget and not grown the budget in the last four years.  Unlike the federal government and the state.  The federal government has $1.3 trillion deficit spending.  The budget has not been present, and a budget that uses too much of the resources of the country is worse than no budget.  We've been doing way too much appropriations.  How are you planning on bringing those two factors into line?

First in her answer Rep McCollum says:
"Well we do have a budget, its called the Budget Control Act  … so there is a budget.  There is a budget in effect that has the force of law.  It's not a regular order budget.  It's not the way I think we should be moving forward in doing our due diligence and oversight."
Actually the Budget Control Act did basically only two things, it increased the debt ceiling and formed the "super-commitee" which proposed the sequestration "threat" that was part of the fiscal cliff scare-fest. It has not yet been implemented.  And was in fact yet again pushed down the road while we have implemented yet another debt ceiling increase this January.  Do we see a pattern there?

So what did the Budget Control Act of 2011  really do? Virtually nothing according to Wikipedia
The act will not actually reduce the overall U.S. debt over the 10-year period it is specified for, only slow down the existing rate of growth of the debt.[13]  That is partly because the cuts due to the act will not reduce federal spending in absolute terms, but rather reduce the year-to-year increases in spending from what had previously been anticipated.[2] Even with the slowdown, both federal spending and the debt are still projected to grow faster than the U.S. economy, due to the cost curve effects of health care, which the act does not address
The budget we are really operating under is called baseline budgeting, with "continuing resolutions" (i.e. just more appropriations) thrown in.  Baseline budgeting is a horrible accounting practice that basically automatically increases the budget 6% each year. And that is what Congress uses as the "starting point" for any budget they might deem to put forth.  Which, because of Senate Democrats, has not been done.  Hence the ease with which they demonize those who want to even slow down the growth of federal spending, as "draconian cuts".  Something which baseline budgeting will never do.  But sadly, yes it does have the force of law.

Returning to Betty McCollum's response, she begins to elaborate  on the sad state of taxation and how we are not able to ask tax questions in the budget committee.
We need to be thoughtful, mindful, and you know, very judicious about the way we are spending um, you know your treasure, your money.  But if your on the budget committee [ed: and she is, by the way, as well as the spending/appropriations committee]  you can talk about prohibiting, cutting, spending, but you can't talk about any of the tax perks.  I offered an amendment on, to do away with, some of the tax perks that most of us in this room would be scratching our head and saying, uh um excuse me why are we doing that.  But you are prohibited from doing that, in doing that in the budget committee.  So we need to have a well rounded, a well thought out discussion about revenues, about spending.  We need to talk about what we want our entitlements to look like for our seniors, not only today, but tomorrow, but for generations to come.  And we need to do this with everything on the table.  Everything on the table.  And right now for the most part we're not able to talk about what the ways and means committee is doing with some of these tax perks. And you don't have to read the whole Simpson Bowles if you don't want to, but if you do look at Simpson Bowles it has it indexed and I think you would find some of the things going on in our tax code really outrageous.  And that needs to be part of the discussion.
So, once you review her comments, spending restraints, that all of us have to do in our every day lives, is simply not something Rep Betty McCollum sees as very important.  It is straight to getting more money from your pockets, and increasing the spending.  Not only does this fail to acknowledge some very basic accounting and economic principles, but it is fairly evident Rep. McCollum does not understand the purview of the Budget Committee.  I am guessing willfully, for purposes of trying to make a point.  The Budget Committee is responsible for revenue estimates and potential requirements, but not the taxation to get it. It is specifically not the place to be talking about taxation.  That is indeed entirely and solely (unless giving a speech from the floor) under the purview of the House Ways & Means committee.  So not being able to talk about taxes in the Budget committee is basically a specious argument for making it seem like it means something nefarious.

We as a country and society need to get serious about reducing the size and scope of government. There is no way to reduce the spending without reducing that which government thinks it can assume the right of control over.  This is not a new concept.  It has been voiced many time and many ways in the history of our country.

This quote is often, and apparently incorrectly, attributed to John Adams, (which does not diminish its appropriateness for the occasion)

There are two ways to conquer and enslave a country. One is by the sword. The other is by debt. 
Henry Hazlitt, in Man vs the Welfare  State
The more things a government undertakes to do, the fewer things it can do competently. When the government tries to do every-thing it must do everything badly.

No comments:

Post a Comment