Tags: Out-of-Control | Federal | Spending

Out-of-Control Federal Spending

Tuesday, 27 December 2005 12:00 AM

It's hard to believe, but nevertheless it is true.

The Republican majorities in both houses of Congress were unable to achieve the goal of a $50 billion reduction over the next five years in a total annual federal budget of $2.6 trillion this fiscal year, settling instead for $39.7 billion, a ridiculously small amount.

Described by the chairman of the Committee on the Budget as "less than one-half of 1 percent of the total mandatory spending projected over the next 5 years," one-third of the total savings comes from reductions in student programs. College students will be paying higher rates of interest and receiving lower subsidies. The other forced contributors to the meager savings achieved overall are the most vulnerable people: Medicaid beneficiaries with benefits scaled back and co-payments imposed, as well as the elderly, whose benefits were reduced.

While many economists – among them Alan Greenspan, the retiring chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank – continue to warn of the danger to our economy resulting from rising federal budgetary deficits, little of substance is being done to address the issue.

Nothing can be responsibly accomplished as long as Congress and the president are bent on using enormous amounts of tax revenues to enrich those already wealthy, diverting those revenues which should be used to maintain adequate services for those in need, expand our health and education coverage for the entire nation and reduce the national debt, reducing thereby the huge interest payments on that debt.

Instead, the president and Congress continue to assist the top 2 percent of America's taxpayers by providing billions in tax reductions that began in the first four years of the Bush administration. Now they're trying to make them both permanent and larger. Those tax deductions overwhelmingly benefit people who earn more than $300,000 a year, with 2 percent of the taxpayers getting 37 percent of the tax reductions.

I deplore fascism, socialism and communism. I'm a believer in the capitalist system that allows you, subject to reasonable restraints and taxes, to use for your own benefit and that of your family your personal abilities – the skill of your hands and the power of your brain.

But I also believe just as firmly in fairness, which requires us to help those who need government assistance. It's not fair that those with the necessary ability should be denied the opportunity to pursue a higher education because they were born into the homes of financially poor parents. The country needs their talents.

It is simply wrong that people should suffer because the country's legislators favor helping those already better off. They are so shameless they have even eliminated subsidies intended to help poor families with their heating bills. Consider how shameful that is when at the same time our government stands by without taking appropriate regulatory and criminal actions against oil companies and foreign countries that violate the existing anti-trust laws intended to protect American consumers.

These laws, initiated as far back as President Theodore Roosevelt's administration 100 years ago, were intended to protect the people of our country from cartels and monopolies that gouge us every day, most flagrantly today in the unbridled prices they charge for oil and gasoline.

Capitalism that is fairly administered and subject to fair laws works wonders. Yes, our economy is booming. But capitalism that runs amok, as it is currently doing in the U.S., adds immensely to the benefits for those already financially secure and injures those who are not. Such a gross distortion of our economic system is unacceptable and should be denounced in the same way we already denounce fascism, socialism and communism.

So long as the 45 million Americans who are without medical insurance continue to find themselves more and more in need of medical assistance, we will be a nation without a conscience. Yes, we now have a prescription drug program that is badly needed. But this program is limited to those on Social Security and is so complex that those eligible are literally terrified because they don't understand the available new coverage and need the services of accountants to select a particular insurance program covering their needs.

How can it be that in a capitalist system which deplores cartels, our government protects prescription drug companies from competition? That our government prohibits the Social Security Agency from securing lower prices by using its immense buying power with bulk purchases as an instrument to affect prices is scandalous and demonstrates how special interests control the president and the Congress.

Does this sound like a rant? I hope so, because it is, as well as a cri de coeur. What if, on an agreed-upon day, every columnist, on the right and left, used their commentary of the day to voice the distress of the common people of this country, who are voiceless? What if, on a single day and hour, everyone walked into the sunlit streets of their city and at a given signal shouted in unison nationwide, "We demand our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!"

Let's throw the rascals out.

There is a debate on how to greet one another in this religiously diverse country, which acknowledges itself to be founded on Judeo-Christian principles, often referred to by our Founding Fathers. Some, fearing to cross the line separating religion and state, have foolishly suggested that the actual names of the two holidays that overlap this year, Christmas and Hanukah, be eliminated and simply use the greeting "Happy Holidays" so as not to offend.

Ridiculous. I suggest that doing that is to offend.

When greeting a Christian or a Jew, expect in this season that the response may very well – and should – include a reference to either or both holidays. I expect the Founding Fathers would have had no lack of temerity in using the names of the holidays.

But I wonder how the descriptive adjectives Merry and Happy came to be. Neither holiday should be described that way. Christmas is the holy holiday of the birth of a savior – for Christians, surely one of the holiest, the other being Easter and the Resurrection. For Jews, the holiday is also holy, marking freedom from subjugation in ancient times by the Syrians.

Both holidays should be times of reflection and not dominated by gift giving. We have heard year after year comments on the commercialism now part of both holidays, and those comments are accurate. It is not the purchase of gifts intended to show respect and love that is denigrating, it is the absence of reflection on what those holidays stand for. We need to seek and emphasize those aspects once again.


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It's hard to believe, but nevertheless it is true. The Republican majorities in both houses of Congress were unable to achieve the goal of a $50 billion reduction over the next five years in a total annual federal budget of $2.6 trillion this fiscal year, settling...
Tuesday, 27 December 2005 12:00 AM
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