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I Can Balance the Budget

Comment

The Congressional Budget Office says the current year's budget deficit will be a record $1.5 trillion. It also says that over the next decade we're on track for annual deficits of "only" $768 billion. I suspect the CBO has hired Rosy Scenario to do the bookkeeping, but let's take that number at face value.

I'm now going to balance the budget, with the help of some experts.

I'll begin with things I'm most eager to cut. Let's privatize air traffic control. Canada did it, and it works better. Then privatize Amtrak. Get rid of all subsidies for rail. That'll save $12 billion.

End subsidies for public broadcasting, like NPR. Cancel the Small Business Administration. Repeal the Davis-Bacon rules under which the government pays union-set wages to workers on federal construction projects. Cut foreign aid by half (although we should probably get rid of all of it). So far, that's $20 billion.

Oops. That doesn't dent the deficit. We have to do much more.

So eliminate the U.S. Education Department. We'd save $94 billion. Federal involvement doesn't improve education. It gets in the way.

Agriculture subsidies cost us $30 billion a year. Let's get rid of them. They distort the economy. We should also eliminate Housing and Urban Development. That's $53 billion more.

Who needs the Energy Department and its $20 billion sinkhole? The free market should determine energy investments.

And let's end the war on drugs. In effect, it's a $47 billion subsidy for thugs in the black market.

I've already cut more than six times more than President Obama proposed in his State of the Union address. His freeze of nondefense discretionary spending would save only $40 billion.

But my cuts still total only $246 billion. If we're going to get rid of the rest of the CBO's projected deficit, we must attack the "untouchable" parts of the budget, starting with Social Security. Raising the retirement age and indexing benefits to inflation would save $93 billion. I'd save more by privatizing Social Security, but our progressive friends won't like that, so for now I'll ignore privatization.

The biggest budget busters are Medicare and Medicaid, and get this: the 400 subsidy programs run by HHS. Assuming I take just two-thirds of the Cato Institute's suggested cuts, that saves $281 billion.

How about the Defense Department's $721 billion? Much of that money could be saved if the administration just shrank the military's mission to its most important role: protecting us and our borders from those who wish us harm. Today, we have more than 50,000 soldiers in Germany, 30,000 in Japan and 9,000 in Britain. Those countries should pay for their own defense. Cato's military cuts add up to $150 billion.

I've now cut enough to put us $2 billion in surplus!

Can we go further?

"Repeal Obamacare," syndicated columnist Deroy Murdock said.

Reason magazine editor Matt Welch wants to cut the Department of Homeland Security, "something that we did without 10 years ago."

But don't we need Homeland Security to keep us safe?

"We already have law enforcement in this country that pays attention to these things. This is a heavily bureaucratized organization.

"Cut the Commerce Department," Mary O'Grady of The Wall Street Journal said. "If you take out the census work that it does, you would save $8 billion. And the rest of what it does is really just collect money for the president from business."

As the bureaucrats complain about proposals to make tiny cuts, it's good to remember that disciplined government could make cuts that get us to a surplus in one year. But even a timid Congress could make swift progress if it wanted to. If it just froze spending at today's levels, it would almost balance the budget by 2017. If spending were limited to 1 percent growth each year, the budget would balanced in 2019. And if the crowd in Washington would limit spending growth to about 2 percent a year, the red ink would almost disappear in 10 years.

As you see, the budget can be cut. Only politics stand in the way.

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "Give Me a Break" and of "Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at <a href="http://www.johnstossel.com" <http://www.johnstossel.com>>johnstossel.com</a>. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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Comments

21 Comments | Post Comment
Math has never been my forte but I could balance the budget.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Dale Hamilton
Wed Feb 2, 2011 4:01 AM
I thought I would be reading an intelligent discourse onthe brutal, common sense budget cuts we need (there were several good points, but poorly executed - really, eliminating the Dept of Education?). Stossel isn't as stupid as he sounds here, yet he's too conservative to take everything as tongue-in-cheek. Not sure what he was trying to accomplish today.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Honor Girl
Wed Feb 2, 2011 5:02 AM
John,
I was just reading an article on how the Senate voted to repeal the 1099 reporting requirement for medical businesses purchasing equipment worth $600 or more, which was included in the Obamacare Bill. How can they vote on the repeal of items in a bill, when the President is not allowed a line by line veto? I know they make up the rules to help themselves, but I was just using their own logic.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Steve
Thu Feb 3, 2011 5:00 AM
Since we're currently stuck with a form of government that needs taxation to operate, doesn't it make sense that its revenue and expenses should be balanced? Only one source of revenue has the possibility of paying off the national debt. No, it's not INCOME tax we need to look at raising so much, as the average American (the masses) have no more blood to give. Look toward the pile of money, where the top 5% only EARN 19% as income. We need to raise the Capital Gains tax rate, where the elites make and hide their wealth. By means of "trickle down" economics the Capital Gains tax rate went from 70% to only 15% almost overnight! Now don't get me wrong, I believe that the ultimate system of Government would have NO taxation, but since we're stuck with one that does for now... WHY IN THE WORLD DID THE GOVERNMENT SHOOT ITS OWN FOOT BY GIVING AWAY ITS PRIMARY SOURCE OF REVENUE USED TO PAY ITS OBLIGATIONS? Duh, the laws were purchased! Consider this analogy:


Let's say I have some property that has oil, and the revenue from that oil is exactly enough to pay all my bills and has done so for many years. Now the oil is distributed unequally on the property and 95% of the land requires a lot of work to extract it. The other 5% of the land just bursts with oil that is easy to extract and it produces as much oil as the 95%. One day the president of Big Oil Company drops by and asks me to sign over the rights (in written contract) to 60% of the oil I'm extracting from the most productive land. In exchange, Big Oil Company promised (with no written contract) to increase the productivity of the 95% to make up the difference. Guess what... we took that deal! Of course Big Oil Company had not only broken their promise to increase the productivity of the 95% but they actually reduced it by re-investing their newly found profits into extracting more oil, but in other countries where it was much cheaper. Our debts were piling up because we never changed our budget to accommodate the loss in revenue, so we decided to get a Big Oil Company Credit card to pay the bills. We've been using that credit card for 30 years now. Essentially the Republicans are to blame for giving away the revenue and the Democrats are to blame for using the credit card. Neither is necessarily worse, but both are extremely flawed.



Here's a few disturbing facts:

In 1980 5% of the population owned 8 trillion dollars

Today that same group owns 40 trillion dollars

That's more wealth than the entire human race had created prior to 1980

1/3 of their wealth could pay off the entire national debt

The top 1/2 of 1% own more wealth than the bottom 50% combined

The interest alone on the national debt was $110.50 per month for every person in your house



At this point there is NOTHING we can do to avoid the explosion of the dollar except take back the "oil from Big Oil Company" (IE remove the Trickle Down tax breaks). When the debt is paid and the slate is clean we can look at things like getting rid of the Fed or the IRS, and reducing the size and scope of government, but until then we'll continue to dig this bottomless pit, better known as our own grave.

=Dave

- If you want change vote for anyone you want to, just not a Democrat or a Republican
Comment: #4
Posted by: Dave Mayton
Thu Feb 3, 2011 1:39 PM
Since we're currently stuck with a form of government that needs taxation to operate, doesn't it make sense that its revenue and expenses should be balanced? Only one source of revenue has the possibility of paying off the national debt. No, it's not INCOME tax we need to look at raising so much, as the average American (the masses) have no more blood to give. Look toward the pile of money, where the top 5% only EARN 19% as income. We need to raise the Capital Gains tax rate, where the elites make and hide their wealth. By means of "trickle down" economics the Capital Gains tax rate went from 70% to only 15% almost overnight! Now don't get me wrong, I believe that the ultimate system of Government would have NO taxation, but since we're stuck with one that does for now... WHY IN THE WORLD DID THE GOVERNMENT SHOOT ITS OWN FOOT BY GIVING AWAY ITS PRIMARY SOURCE OF REVENUE USED TO PAY ITS OBLIGATIONS? Duh, the laws were purchased! Consider this analogy:


Let's say I have some property that has oil, and the revenue from that oil is exactly enough to pay all my bills and has done so for many years. Now the oil is distributed unequally on the property and 95% of the land requires a lot of work to extract it. The other 5% of the land just bursts with oil that is easy to extract and it produces as much oil as the 95%. One day the president of Big Oil Company drops by and asks me to sign over the rights (in written contract) to 60% of the oil I'm extracting from the most productive land. In exchange, Big Oil Company promised (with no written contract) to increase the productivity of the 95% to make up the difference. Guess what... we took that deal! Of course Big Oil Company had not only broken their promise to increase the productivity of the 95% but they actually reduced it by re-investing their newly found profits into extracting more oil, but in other countries where it was much cheaper. Our debts were piling up because we never changed our budget to accommodate the loss in revenue, so we decided to get a Big Oil Company Credit card to pay the bills. We've been using that credit card for 30 years now. Essentially the Republicans are to blame for giving away the revenue and the Democrats are to blame for using the credit card. Neither is necessarily worse, but both are extremely flawed.



Here's a few disturbing facts:

In 1980 5% of the population owned 8 trillion dollars
Today that same group owns 40 trillion dollars
That's more wealth than the entire human race had created prior to 1980
1/3 of their wealth could pay off the entire national debt
The top 1/2 of 1% own more wealth than the bottom 50% combined
The interest alone on the national debt was $110.50 per month for every person in your house


At this point there is NOTHING we can do to avoid the explosion of the dollar except take back the "oil from Big Oil Company" (IE remove the Trickle Down tax breaks). When the debt is paid and the slate is clean we can look at things like getting rid of the Fed or the IRS, and reducing the size and scope of government, but until then we'll continue to dig this bottomless pit, better known as our own grave.

=Dave

- If you want change vote for anyone you want to, just not a Democrat or a Republican
Comment: #5
Posted by: Dave Mayton
Thu Feb 3, 2011 1:41 PM
Here's one we can do right now: lets demand compensation from China for all the proprietary technology they have stolen from us. Also for all the software license violations and product piracy, all of which has cost hundreds of billions of dollars to US companies and has considerably damaged our economy. That should level the budget by bringing back a lot of money that is rightfully ours.

If we don't even have the spine to raise this issue, and bring a legitimate claim to those who have taken advantage of us to the point of causing serious harm to our economy, do you really think we'll have the spine to do things like privatizing Social Security or closing the Dept. of Education?
Comment: #6
Posted by: JSebs
Fri Feb 4, 2011 8:40 AM
Re: Dale Hamilton
Why not cut the Dept. of Education? Education is done face to face between motivated teachers and empowered students. The Federal Government has not contributed one positive thing to the education of our children ever. It should all be handled locally by the parents and the educators at the local level.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Doug Graham
Fri Feb 4, 2011 1:10 PM
Re: Honor Girl

Can anyone name a single positive thing that the Dept. of Education has done for our children that couldn't have been handled better at the local level? Teaching is done face to face and effective teaching only requires parents who pay attention, support the teachers and teachers who care. The students will perform without any help from federal bureaucrats. Local control can only improve what is happening now.
Comment: #8
Posted by: Doug Graham
Fri Feb 4, 2011 1:14 PM
:health
. saving medicare costs.and were to subsidize
VOLUNTEER TO DIE -
Our young soldiers volunteer to die on battle. We older sicker debilitated nearly dead people can offer to die before millions are spent on non essential and non effective tests etc and procedures that make doctors and hospitals rich but do not improve our lives. These end of life non essential procedures cost the country a lot of money and do not get us to heaven happier. I suggest we start an organization called
Volunteer for america and have various aspects of this .
If we are unable to get weller and will die anyway don't allow doctors and hospitals and labs to get rich doing procedures and tests and surgeries-like chopping out the stomach of someone that has no legs or lungs of chance to live- already half dead but still have insurance to pay for this. .
This is criminal waste of money and is practiced in hospitals to make them rich and not improve our last days on earth.

2/ VoLUNTEER TO GET STERILIZED
If you have a history of perversions, criminality, psychiatric illness AIDS or some other inherited disease that will cost the government millions -get sterilized and fornicate as much as you want but don't bring disabled people into society to burden society
3, GET STERIZED
If you are penniless and on the street or homeless and do not have a means to provide for a child don't duplicate more of your self. Get sterilized and volunteer a few less dependents on society for america.
3b
If you already have 5 children and cannot support yourself stop bringing in more children for me to support

4/ IF YOUR WEALTH IS DUE TO CLEVER TAX EVASION, CROOKED DEALS. DRUG RUNNING OR CORPORATE WELLFARE

DONATE 50% OF ALL YOUR MONEY FOR SCHOOLS AND ADVANCING THE SCIENCE OF SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE TO FEED THE HORDES MULIPLYING ON THE PLANET. PAY TO CREATE NEW TECHNOLGY TO PURIFY WATER AND SOIL.YOU WILL STILL HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO PAY FOR YOUR GOLDEN TOILETS

5/ CORPORATIONS DESTOYING THE HEALTH OF PEOPLE
VOLUNTEER TO AVOID CHEMICALS AND ADDICTIVE CORN SYTRUP SUGARS AND SALT AND OTHER ADDITIVES IN FOOD AND EARN LESS BUT KEEP OUR MEDICAL BILLS DOWN
GO ORGANIC .

6 /CORPORATIONS POISONING THE PLANET-DOW AND MONSATTO CHEMICALS PLEASE
VOUNTEER TO CLOSE YOUR BUSINESSES .

DALIYA ROBSON

Comment: #9
Posted by: daliya robson
Fri Feb 4, 2011 2:37 PM
Re: Steve when I had some pain in the ack the doctr offered me a tens machine via medicare. It cost the gvemenmt about $1000 for a $150 machine and every few weeks I was sent some jelly pads that costs $9 each at a charge of $65 for medicare .
Comment: #10
Posted by: daliya robson
Fri Feb 4, 2011 2:43 PM
Re: daliya robson cant tell if your serious or being satrical., but if you areare here are some more ideas.refuse healthe care to smokers,mentally or physically disabled new borns,alcholics,execute all convictss do like the movie,logans run,and dont allow anyone to live past 30,or 50.OH<RIGHT! YOU WANT OTHERS TO DO THIS,BUT NOT YOU !GET REAL
Comment: #11
Posted by: MIKE WOODHALL
Sat Feb 5, 2011 11:27 AM
Re: daliya robson YOU RAISE THE KIDS?DOUBT THE TAXES YOU PAY CAN RUN THE GOVERNMENT FOR 1 MINUTE.WHY DO PEOPLE WANT EVERY ONE ELSE TO FELL THE PAIN BUT DONT THINK THEY SHOULD TOO? SO MUCH SELFISHNESS AND SELF RIGHTEGNOUS.NO WONDER THE WORLD THINKS THE USA IS IN DECLINE.,AND THATS NOT A GOOD THING FOR THE REST OF US WHO SHHARE THIS PLANET.ID RATHER BE DOMINATED BY THE USA THAN CHINA
Comment: #12
Posted by: MIKE WOODHALL
Sat Feb 5, 2011 11:32 AM
Re: daliya robson YOU RAISE THE KIDS?DOUBT THE TAXES YOU PAY CAN RUN THE GOVERNMENT FOR 1 MINUTE.WHY DO PEOPLE WANT EVERY ONE ELSE TO FELL THE PAIN BUT DONT THINK THEY SHOULD TOO? SO MUCH SELFISHNESS AND SELF RIGHTEGNOUS.NO WONDER THE WORLD THINKS THE USA IS IN DECLINE.,AND THATS NOT A GOOD THING FOR THE REST OF US WHO SHHARE THIS PLANET.ID RATHER BE DOMINATED BY THE USA THAN CHINA
Comment: #13
Posted by: MIKE WOODHALL
Sat Feb 5, 2011 11:32 AM
Re: daliya robson YOU RAISE THE KIDS?DOUBT THE TAXES YOU PAY CAN RUN THE GOVERNMENT FOR 1 MINUTE.WHY DO PEOPLE WANT EVERY ONE ELSE TO FELL THE PAIN BUT DONT THINK THEY SHOULD TOO? SO MUCH SELFISHNESS AND SELF RIGHTEGNOUS.NO WONDER THE WORLD THINKS THE USA IS IN DECLINE.,AND THATS NOT A GOOD THING FOR THE REST OF US WHO SHHARE THIS PLANET.ID RATHER BE DOMINATED BY THE USA THAN CHINA
Comment: #14
Posted by: MIKE WOODHALL
Sat Feb 5, 2011 11:32 AM
While I'd like to see every elimination you suggest, did you have your staff calculate how many people would be added to the unemployed rolls??? You probably just raised the URate to 14%!!! If this isn't a good number, perhaps you'll correct it?
Comment: #15
Posted by: Ken
Mon Feb 7, 2011 10:39 AM
I think if given the chance people would thrive with the lean and mean government Stossel describes. Change is difficult for most, but isn't that the very reason we elected our current President and Congress? Government should never be allowed to spend more than it makes. Good programs need to be cut if borrowing money is necessary to pay for them. I would cut good programs I support if they are not primary functions of the government. And I would continue to support those causes with my own money if I believed them important to my family, community or country.
On another subject, hallowed ground such as the Department of Education and others must be tread upon. Departments and organizations that fail should be allowed to fail and dissolve. SwissAir? Everyone knows the Federal Education Department is a big bully stick that does more damage than good to the quality of a State's education. States are quite capable of managing their own education system. Their accountability is local and tangible. Money and bureaucracies do not create quality education for students of any age. My children are in a private school. Not a fancy high dollar private school, but the more popular kind that is committed to the best possible education with the smallest amount of resources. I find it quite telling that there are a number of public school educators that send their children to our school. I would be so pleased to save the money and send my kids to the public school in our district, but I feel it would be a disservice to them. So we suck-it-up and find a way to pay it every month because we put it as a priority in our budget. Maybe, our Congress and President, both current and future, could apply the same suck-it-up and prioritize principle for the people of this country. Isn't that what we elect them and pay them well to do?
Food for fodder
Comment: #16
Posted by: anna
Mon Feb 7, 2011 11:16 AM
In balancing the budget, I propose eliminating the Earned Income Credit program. It is purely a wealth redistribution program that violates American principles. On Saturday, I had dinner with a CPA who had just finished preparing taxes for a couple who will receive $10,800 from the federal govt through the EIC program. Both are high school dropouts with 3 kids so the govt. thinks that because they decided not to finish their education so they could earn a decent salary, the rest of us taxpayers should support them and their family.
The EIC costs over $40 Billion annually.
It must be eliminated.
Comment: #17
Posted by: Jim
Mon Feb 7, 2011 12:26 PM
Although it's not a pretty process, it is important for the private sector to be given the opportunity to start absorbing public sector jobs. One reason being, it is good for our economy. Private workers and employers can not continue to support the growing government spending, interest on debt, entitlement programs and employees wage, benefits and retirement; without giving up more and more private sector income, benefits and retirements. It's a little more serious than that, but the basic idea is we are on an unsustainable economic path, as well as a destructive economic path for every income bracket. It is everyone's problem. Public sector growth is far out pacing private sector growth. One may say "why does it matter where the job comes from as long as there is a good job"? It would be nice if it didn't matter but it does for many reasons. I'm not smart enough to explain them all. I do know we as a nation only produce a certain amount of wealth(GDP), that being your income or income instruments. In our current situation the cost of government is creeping up on and will eventually eclipse that which we produce.
In addition, public sector jobs serve a very different, important, but different purpose in our society than private enterprise. Public sector jobs are supposed to be slow and methodical in their action. Every job someone in public sector does needs enabling legislation. There has to be a law that allows them to act. Private sector jobs are restrained by laws, not dictated. There is freedom to choose, to move, to innovate and create, within the law. Both private and public serve a meaningful purpose, but shouldn't be confused. Maybe that's why public sector jobs were once called public service.
Comment: #18
Posted by: anna
Mon Feb 7, 2011 1:57 PM
Add this to your comments on making a pencil. yes their penneys apiece but look what when into it.
You look at government that way and you only wonder how it ever got so big.
Taxes - we are still using the same tax table that was first drawn up. At that time NO ONE PAID TAXES
That is why it was so easy to establish it as a bible for who paid and who didn't. 90% of the population didn't earn enough to have to pay tax. That allowed business and industry to grow and expand until prosperty brought more people on to the TAX CHART And only then did the Government begin to grow. Today the pyrimid has turned upside down all the administration is at the top and at the point of the pyrimed is the poor and working class that were not susposed to be on the tax rolls at all.
We need to press the RESET BUTTON draw a new tax chart and take an AXE not a scalpel to government.
Comment: #19
Posted by: Bill Baker
Tue Feb 8, 2011 7:55 PM
Re: Honor Girl
Did you know that from the VERY first year that the department of education got involved that students overall testing results dropped by over 20%. Until that time there had been a steady increase but EVERY year since the DOE has been involved it has gotten progressively worse. Before text book writers and curriculum development was a COMPETITIVE market that generated drastically better results. Now all those books and curriculum's are made by just three company's, all with highly placed government officials both past and present. Testing showed that before the DOE that textbooks contained less than 0.2% errors, now the governments own statistics show they APPROVE books with subject matter, end of chapter summaries and end of chapter test questions and answers that are more than 36% incorrect!!!! Every text book our school uses has so many massive mistakes it takes teachers constant attention to correct them. Many textbooks have more than 50%, yes I said 50% of the answers incorrect. The problem is that most fellow teachers are just too lazy to correct the mistakes and inform the students.
If everything was competitive, including ALL k-12 schools, all materials, all textbooks, all teaching aids, then capitalism would FORCE only the best to survive and the weakest to fail. Then you would naturally see an increase in student scoring.
The DOE IS THE ONLY THING STANDING IN THE WAY OF OUR CHILDREN'S EDUCATION!
Comment: #20
Posted by: TC
Thu Feb 10, 2011 11:48 AM
While we're at it, lets force all the congressmen and congresswomen back to their home states to stand before their constituent and answer to the reasons of loose fiscal policy. Afterwards, we can line them in a row and give them a PUBLIC SPANKING. I would say the spankings would take place over the course of a couple of hours, depending on the state. Oh, and let's broadcast the spankings on TV, with commercials between spankings. That way advertisers can buy airtime from the networks, and some of the proceeds would be used to shore up local and state deficits. (OK, I know that will never happen, but I can dream can't I?)
Comment: #21
Posted by: Damon Townsend
Tue Feb 15, 2011 5:56 PM
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