What Will It Take to Get a Balanced Budget?

Monday, 23 Jun 2014 07:46 AM

By Michael Shannon

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May marked a new milestone for federal government efficiency and organization. An event you’d think should cause rejoicing in Washington. But both the bureaucracy and the Obama administration have been strangely silent.

According to CNSNews.com, through May of this year revenue from federal tax collection set an all–time record. The IRS may not be able to keep email from slipping through its tenacious fingers, but it latches on to tax dollars at a prodigious rate.

So far in fiscal 2014 the IRS has collected $1,934,919,000,000. In inflation–adjusted dollars this is more than at any other time in our history and it occurred in an economy that has been mostly comatose since 2008.

In round numbers that’s 1 trillion, 934 billion, 919 million dollars, rounded off to the nearest government pension. It’s difficult to grasp a number of this colossal size. If you divided this sum by the number of citizens in the U.S., each citizen would receive a check for $6,103 — which may explain the current situation on our border with Mexico.

In the scandal–filled Washington environment the administration can certainly use some good news to distract from the VA, Iraq, Iran, and missing email. Usually good news like this would have the executive branch and Democrats in Congress fighting to see who could get to the TV cameras first.

Admittedly the visuals would be difficult. I don’t imagine the president would want to be behind a podium that featured taxpayers with their pockets turned inside out in the background, women looking at empty purses and men pulling dust bunnies from their wallets.

In truth, the reason for the silence is not how to visually portray the event. President Obama could just as well announce the record at a Roomba factory. The problem is, revenue is only part of the story. It’s the spending side that produces indifference from administration spinmeisters.

At a time when the federal government has more tax dollars collected than ever before in its history, the country will still be running a deficit of $436 billion. In human terms, it’s like winning the Powerball lottery at 9 a.m. Appearing before TV cameras with the giant lottery check at noon. And then being found in line at the payday lending store at 6 p.m. You would think simple friction would cause at least some of the money to stick to Uncle Sam’s fingers.

But no, it vanishes faster than an Obamacare promise.

This obscene, grotesque overspending and the congressional enabling class is the problem. Uncle Sam is like the 900-pound man who calls the fire department to cut a hole in the side of his house when he needs to visit the doctor. Except Dr. Congress doesn’t recommend a diet or even bypass surgery. Instead he tells Sam his suet intake is a little low, and he could use some lard in his diet.

And that’s why the administration puts more PR pressure behind the president’s March Madness bracket choices than it does revenue collection. Acknowledging the vast revenue, while owning up to the continuing deficit, would show the American people once and for all the real problem in Washington.

The federal government doesn’t have a revenue problem — the United States has a spending problem. And that is what’s causing the deficit to balloon and putting the country on the road to fiscal collapse.

The deficit will never disappear, in spite of all the left’s pontificating about “a balanced approach to the budget that includes revenue increases,” until spending is cut. And the chances of that happening with the current cast of characters in Washington are slim.

Incidentally, that is why the stimulus that failed to stimulate was so important to Democrats. This incredible gush of spending permanently raised the baseline for future spending. And that was much more important than any potential impact it would have on the economy.

In the future any reduction in overall spending is termed a “cut to vital programs by heartless Republicans in thrall to Wall Street.” So it’s easier to keep the government running with bipartisan solutions (aptly described by Maryland senate GOP primary challenger Michael Hough “Every time he reaches across the aisle, it involves the government reaching into our pockets”).

Bipartisanship means the spending flows imperceptibly slower and the vote doesn’t risk losing your spot on the political gravy train for something as minor as principle and the nation’s future.

Who’s paying the tax that fleetingly fills the coffers is also interesting. The largest portion was paid through the individual income tax that totaled $903.024 billion. That’s yours and Warren Buffett’s secretary’s income tax. You’re also a participant in the second largest source “Social Insurance and Retirement Receipts” that includes Social Security payroll tax and others that came to $694.268 billion.

Finally the corporate income tax brought in $164.840 billion.

The only conceivable solution, aside from a default after China closes the lending window, is a balanced budget amendment. Nothing else will stop these profligates from spending. In the meantime during this campaign season, if you’re worried about federal spending I have two questions for you to ask your representative and senators. If they claim to be “fighting for our children’s futures,” ask them how many votes they cast to cut overall federal spending.

And when they say we aren’t investing enough (political speak for spending) in education, ethanol, windmills, or whatever, ask them what program they will cut to find the money to pay for the new spending.

These two points won’t make you popular and I doubt you’ll get a straight answer, but it will put the politician on notice that you are paying attention.

Michael R. Shannon is a commentator, researcher (for the League of American Voters), and an award–winning political and advertising consultant with nationwide and international experience. He is author of "Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!)." Read more of Michael Shannon's reports — Go Here Now.


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