Monday, August 5, 2013

MONDAY MUSINGS: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO TAKING CARE OF CITIZENS FIRST?




I’m not usually political and rarely get controversial and endless arguing of pros and cons of politics is an anathema to me. That doesn't mean I don’t have opinions, only that I don’t always choose to air them. 

I will say this whole debacle of balancing the budget ticks me off. The Joint Committee of the Office of Management and Budget seriously ticks me off, as does congress.

I am not a financial expert. Common sense says to balance any budge you have to first control and reduce the spending while still paying off debt and looking for ways to invest or increase income. It means taking a hard look at needs versus wants. It also means putting away your credit line sources and not touching them and certainly not using them to make up the difference lost income (aka robbing Peter to pay Paul).

When you take a hard look at income versus expenditures aren't you reducing your charitable donations and taking a firm look at finances before loaning money to anyone? It’s not that a matter of not caring about others but a matter of first priorities, which should be the immediate needs and health of your family (or on a governmental level the needs of your citizens). The bottom line is if I’m spending more than I’m earning I’m going to go bankrupt. And so is this government if it doesn't smarten up.

The last time the United States had a balanced budget and reported a surplus was in 2001. The country has been running in the red since and it’s jumped dramatically under this administration. From 1970-1997 this country’s budget ran red. A new president was elected and in 1998 came a balanced budget and a reported surplus and not just one year but 1999, 2000, and 2001. A democratic president and republican controlled congress and yet not only was the budget balanced, but there was a surplus

I’m not saying all of this was result of the Clinton Administration because it certainly wasn't. Much of this was set up and in place during the prior Administration. Clinton was just smart enough to go along with what had already been set in motion. Each president inherits the good and bad from the prior administration. And there was some good problem solving by people who actually used the principles learned in school and applied it to the financial mess of the government. It wasn't perfect but at least it was positive forward movement. There was some pretty fancy dancing around turning deficits to surpluses with substantial cutting of taxes (including capital gains) and discretionary spending of the government as well as revamping of the welfare system (and other government funded programs) and thus promoting an economic boom, which led to a surplus. But these people were smart and looked for ways to make the cuts in discretionary spending of government programs by setting other financial resources in place to help defray those cuts and minimize the hardships on the citizens impacted.

This administration has decided the answer is raising taxes, including capital gains (from 15% to 20%). Thus insuring those businesses and people with realized profits that could spend it here, at home, generating jobs will be spend or invest elsewhere.

When the Joint Committee of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) couldn't agree and balance the National budget the Budget Control Act came into play and forced cuts impartially, without thought to the needs of citizens, across the board. According to Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, this is how it works: 
“The Budget Control Act spells out the steps that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) must take because of the Joint Committee’s inability to agree…the law calls for $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction through 2021… Those cuts themselves are divided equally between the “national defense” budget function and all other budget functions: $54.7 billion per year in defense and $54.7 billion per year in non-defense programs.”  
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what brought about the harebrained sequester cuts. There are over 2.1 million federal workers and more than half will be forced into a mandatory furlough one day a week with without pay and they cannot recoup that loss by using their earned vacation pay or sick leave. If you want to know how that impacts a family? Do the math. Take 20% off your weekly income and see what you’d be losing. The sequester cuts will also force lay-offs of more than 8,000 (that figure is just the Department of the Army and who knows what the total figures are from all 4 branches of the military) people who are contract or temporary workers for the government or military. Oh, and your unemployment benefits? You had better hope you can find another job within 6 months. 3.8 million people are unemployed and now more with sequester cuts, and they will see a reduction of benefits as much as 9.4% if jobless beyond 6 months.

The Budget Control Act cuts effect more than you think. It will impact on defense, Homeland Security, food safety, health care (such as Medicare reimbursement and Veteran services), transportation, National Parks, Nuclear Security, tax collection, low-income housing and education. Education is a biggie. To put it in perspective, 70,000 enrolled students in Head Start programs could be cut and 14,000 teachers. Special needs children will lose about 7,200 teachers and aides. Grants used to fund college tuition and work-study programs for students will also be affected.

I understand and agree with the need for cuts in government programs and discretionary spending but not like this.

What really burns my bacon? 

This Administration is cutting paychecks of United States citizens and laying off thousands of others, allegedly to save the government money, and yet this President is giving over $300 million in humanitarian aid to Syria and surrounding countries? 

WTF??

How about spending some of those funds on the needs of American citizens, Mr. President?    

10 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That $300 million could go a long way here. And I can think of a lot of other programs they could cut instead.

Johanna Garth said...

I'm really hoping they come to a budget soon. The last time the government did furloughs I think it was 1996?? Can't remember exactly, but I think it took about a month before the situation was resolved.

Yolanda Renee said...

Hopefully things change soon, but sadly it won't happen till the next election.

Although, if it gets harder and harder for us to stay out of politics maybe that's a good thing!

Jo said...

This doesn't just happen in the US it happens in Canada and the UK (that I know of)sending millions of dollars or pounds to other countries when the originating country badly needs those funds for its people. Why do they do it? I'm damned if I know.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Alex's that's the God's truth. The last time they made cuts to government funded programs they were a bit more fair and equitable.

Johanna, I remember that. Well, we're on mandatory furlough, with a 20% cut in pay each week until the latter part of October. there has been talk of extending it but the outcry has been vociferous, so perhaps it will end in October. Be nicer if they ended it sooner, but I don't see that happening.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Yolanda, each new president inherits the good and bad from the administration before it. So, while it's a nice thought that the elections will bring a change, I doubt it. They still have to deal with all this crap for the first couple of years. sigh...

It's not that many of us don't pay attention to current events and politics but,in my case, I keep it mostly private and deal with it on a private level. But Mondays are one of those days that I talk about what interest me or what's going on in my life. The rest of the time I do promotion for authors. :-) Politics doesn't mix well with that.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Jo--I hear you and I do know that US isn't exclusive in humanitarian aid. But, like you say, most of the citizens in those countries need the funds as much or more than where they're being sent.

Dan and I were talking about that. Prior to WWII, the US was basically an isolationist country. It was a stronger and healthier country and money went to infrastructure. Total isolation isn't wise, but being everyone and their brother's bankers--especially those countries that hate us to begin with and look at the help as either their due or a sign of weakness on the US's part--isn't wise either.

In my opinion, I think each country should first take care of their citizens and the brunt of money needs to go to that and reduce the percentage going to other countries.

Melanie Schulz said...

Sia- you're talking common sense- don't you know that's not their language?

Mark Koopmans said...

you go girl with your big bad self :-)

well played McKye, well played.

~Sia McKye~ said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it Mark. Yeah, I'm just a bit disgusted, could you tell?

Good news? Chain of command says that we now have only two more paychecks under sequester budget cuts. That's much better than dealing with this bullshit until late October. That engendered a sigh of relief here in the McKye household, I can tell you.

There truly has been a mighty outcry against all this. I swear I haven't seen so many petitions regarding it and proposed cuts in social security as well as Veteran funding in ...well I can't remember when. When letters of protest (as in bags and bags of it) pour into elected official's offices across the board, they tend to get attention.