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Post details: How to Balance the Federal Budget

How to Balance the Federal Budget

These days, congressfolks have more functions than a loaded smart phone. Cultivating donor liaisons, dancing with eligible and ineligible lobbyists, rubbing elbows with fellow power brokers, debating the state of federal highways, delivering passionate speeches at annual gatherings of local tent makers, testing Air Force cockpits for flash resistance, meeting the press every other Sunday, avoiding arrest for cliche laundering, managing their private steamy affairs, breathing fire across the aisle during the session and I am not even going into the little chores like kissing babies, naming cute piglets or cutting ribbons.

But when all is said and overdone, their job number one is taking good care of our public affairs and more specifically managing the national finances. In other words, balancing our societal needs against the available funding in such fashion that we can provide the current population with all the necessary services but won't saddle the future generations with undue debt burden. And let's be honest - on this all important front they are usually badly failing. As the debt ceiling debate approaches again, the sprawling circus of the DC politics shifts into the highest gear: the rhetoric heats up, obstructionism runs rampant, threats are flying lower than swallows before a thunder storm and partisan posturing swings wide on either side. All in the name of American taxpayers.

Yet an antidote to this annual burlesque is simple. No congress person receives his or her salary for the given year until the corresponding budget is proposed, finalized and passed. No exceptions. Moreover, for every 1% of the deficit, the legislators' salary gets automatically reduced by 5%. And guess what? You would immediately see a flurry of intense negotiations. They would make compromises no one deemed possible just a few months ago. And best of all, we'd have a sustainable fiscal policy in virtually no time.

Mathematics does not care about ideological squabbles. And the simple fact is that you cannot run deficits larger than your average rate of growth. At least not indefinitely. That is why this issue is paramount for maintaining the long term financial health and for being good stewards of our common wealth. Yes, balancing the budget is a hard job because you have to carefully weigh the consequences of each cut and you have to consider the implications for each segment of the electorate. But that's the point. It is exactly this hard job for which we sent our representatives to DC in the first place. So they better do it right.


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