by John Hawkins | January 16, 2004 2:22 am
Do you want to know why we have such a huge budget deficit and why it has proven impossible over the long-term to keep spending under control? It’s because of good ideas.
Make no mistake about it, given the depth of the AIDS crisis in Africa, spending 15 billion dollars to help fight AIDS over there is a “good idea”.
Also, I believe building a moon base and putting men on mars will lead to all sorts of scientific advances. Certainly, that seems to be a “good idea”.
Then there is the Prescription Drug Benefit, spending 1.5 billion to promote marriage, faith based initiatives, giving money to the states to make up for their deficit shortfalls, agriculture subsidies, ever increasing education spending, and thousands and thousands of other pet projects & pork that either the White House or Congress thinks is a “good idea”.
Of course, the problem with all these “good ideas” is that they’re not free & our government has a limited amount of OUR MONEY to spend on them. Moreover, our government isn’t very good at prioritizing, so when they are confronted with several “good ideas” that cost more than we can afford, they spend the money anyway — whether we have it or not.
Now, you wouldn’t think they’d be able to get away with that, would you? But, you have to remember, we’re talking about “good ideas” here. If someone proposes a “good idea,” there will either be a majority or at least a passionate minority of Americans that support it.
Then once we start funding the “good idea”, it’s almost impossible to get rid of it. That’s because people who like the “good idea” will complain if it’s threatened, the media will call any politician who wants to get rid of it “out of touch” or “heartless”, and the politicians who support the “good idea” will use it as an election issue.
The problem is that some day, somehow, we’re going to run out of money to pay for all these “good ideas”. And when I say we’re going to “run out of money,” I don’t mean we’re going to be saying,
“Oh, we’re just running a $450 billion deficit, no big deal, Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.”
It’s actually going be more like,
“Oh my God! Our checks are bouncing, there’s a run on the banks, and we don’t even have the money to fund a study on the mating habits of the crested spit sucker!”
Poo-poo that if you like and say, “that can’t happen to us,” but you’re just kidding yourself if you think that. It may not happen next month or next year, heck, it may even take a decade or two for things to get to that point. But, not even the US government can keep spending hundreds of billions of dollars more than it takes in, year, after year, after year, without turning into Argentina at some point down the road.
That’s not to say that this isn’t a fixable problem — it certainly is. If we were able to control Federal spending, we could eventually grow our way out of the deficit and pay off our debt over time. But the problem is all those “good ideas”. The only — and I do mean the only — way to control spending LONG-TERM is to legislatively constrain the government. I’d prefer putting a Balanced Budget or a Tax And Spending Limitation Amendment into place, but I’m open to anything that will get government expenditures under control before we go broke paying for all of these “good ideas”.
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