One Of Many Reasons Government Spending Keeps Increasing

On September 24, The Daily Signal posted an article about some recent comments made by Senator Joni Ernst. The Senator highlighted the practice of ‘Christmas in September’ spending by government agencies. There are some problems with the way our federal government’s budgeting system works. There is something called ‘baseline budgeting.’ This simply means that your starting point for your yearly budget is how much you actually spent of last year’s budget. Therefore, unless you want your budget to be cut this year, you had better spend all of the money you had in your budget last year. This means that as the fiscal year draws to a close, government agencies have the incentive to spend wildly. It also results in statements that actually make no sense but are widely accepted as fact. For instance, if I ask for a ten percent increase in my budget and only get a five percent increase, I will complain that my budget was cut five percent. In any other world, I got a five percent increase. In the world of government, I got a five percent cut. That is the reason that even though you are reading that the federal budget got cut, the spending actually increased. Unfortunately, to Washington it is all a game. Wild spending of taxpayer money is not a problem to our Congress–only to the taxpayers who have to pay the bill.

The article at The Daily Signal reports:

The fourth-ranking Republican in the Senate called on colleagues Tuesday to pass her legislation to reduce wasteful government spending and rein in agencies’ spending practices.

“Government agencies are going on their annual ‘Christmas in September’ use-it-or-lose-it shopping spree,” Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said in remarks prepared for delivery on the Senate floor.

“If not spent by midnight on Sept. 30, leftover dollars expire and can no longer be used,” Ernst said. “Rather than returning the money to taxpayers, binge-buying bureaucrats are wasting billions of taxpayer dollars needlessly.”

The federal government’s fiscal year ends Sept. 30, and Ernst’s legislation, called the End of Year Fiscal Responsibility Act, would end agencies’ annual 11th-hour sprints to spend all their budgeted money before the fiscal year runs out.

Her bill would curb how much an agency could spend in the last two months of the fiscal year to no more than what the agency usually spends each month on average during the rest of the year.

…“This bill won’t end all wasteful spending, but it will force agencies to put more thought into long-term planning and curtail the bad habit of out-of-control impulsive spending,” Ernst said.

Ernst said “spending sprees” in the past have included almost $12,000 for a commercial foosball table; $4.6 million for lobster tail and crab; $2.1 million for games, toys, and wheeled goods; over $53,000 on table china; and over $40,000 on clocks.

“With our national debt now surpassing $22 trillion, Washington should be looking for ways to save by canceling or delaying unnecessary expenses, rather than splurging on end-of-year wish lists,” Ernst said.

Another piece of legislation pushed by Iowa’s junior senator would keep her colleagues from returning home until they passed a budget.

“Through my No Budget, No Recess Act, members of Congress would be prohibited from leaving Washington if we fail to pass a budget by April 15 or approve regular spending bills by Aug. 1,” she said.

The government must stop enabling agencies to spend money that shouldn’t be spent, Ernst added:

I think Senator Ernst has some really good ideas.

About The Taxes You Pay On Your Social Security

In the past few days I have been getting notices on my phone to sign a petition to end taxing Social Security. I normally support smaller government, less spending, and lower taxes, but in this case, I want to keep taxing Social Security. I want to keep taxing Social Security until the federal budget is balanced. Who do I hold responsible for the unbalanced budget and the increasing debt? The voters. I will explain.

There are a lot of factors that went into my deciding that Social Security should be taxed (despite the fact that the money has already been taxed once). I will attempt to list them here. The majority of today’s Social Security recipients are the baby boomers. Those born in 1957 or before are now eligible to collect Social Security. In 1971, the voting age was lowered to 18, and those people born in 1957 began voting in 1975. The gold standard ended in 1973. Up until that point, budget deficits were running between $1 billion and $23 billion.

I want to focus on the baby boomers. We were the generation that ‘had it all.’ We were the ‘me generation.’ Our parents had come through the depression and World War II and enjoyed the prosperity of the 1950’s. We were consumers. As adults, we began the serious use of credit cards. We took out student loans to send our children to college. We were seriously into instant gratification. We were idealistic–we wanted to end poverty. We also wanted to end communism. We tried to do both at once and spent money we didn’t have. In the 1970’s and 1980’s the deficits grew rapidly. We continued to elect people who helped them grow. We complained when they grew, but continued to elect people who overspent. We are the ones currently collecting Social Security. We deserve to be taxed on it because we are the ones who elected the people who have run up the deficit.

So who is responsible for the rapidly growing federal debt–the voters. Don’t talk to me about the money or lobbyists in politics–if your Congressman is voting against your interests because of lobbyists, it is your responsibility to vote him out of office. When the Republicans caved on repealing ObamaCare, they deserved to be voted out of office. We need to keep voting people out of office until we get what we want.

I would love for Social Security to be tax free, but let’s put people in Congress who will control spending first!

This Explains A Lot

Yesterday The Daily Caller posted an article that explains a few things that were curious at the time. When viewing these events, it’s a good idea to consider the underlying currents–establishment Republicans don’t want the wall any more than the Democrats. Their reasons are different, but the goal is the same. That is why the Secure Fence Act of 2006 was never actually carried out.

100 percent fed up detailed the timeline of events following the passage of the Secure Fence Act of 2006 in an article posted on August 16, 2015.

Here are some highlights from that timeline:

In his speech in El Paso on immigration reform on May 10, 2011, Obama declared that the fence along the border with Mexico is “now basically complete.” Like much of what comes out of the Obama administration, that was a lie. What was supposed to be built was a double-layered fence with barbed wire on top, and room for a security vehicle to patrol between the layers. Except for 36 of the seven-hundred-mile fence, what was built looks like the picture above or the one below.

This is the above picture:

This is the below picture:

Somehow the two pictures do not appear to be the same.

So what happened? The article reports:

The first blow against the promised fence was made by Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican Senator from Texas, at the urging of DHS she proposed an amendment to give the Department discretion to decide what type of fence was appropriate in different areas. The law was amended to read,
“Nothing in this paragraph shall require the Secretary of Homeland Security to install fencing, physical barriers, roads, lighting, cameras, and sensors in a particular location along an international border of the United States, if the Secretary determines that the use or placement of such resources is not the most appropriate means to achieve and maintain operational control over the international border at such location.”
Hutchison’s amendment was included in a federal budget bill in late 2007 despite the fact that Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., had a cow…he argued the amendment effectively killed the border fence promised in the 2006 bill, he was right. Hutchison’s intentions may have been honorable, but she didn’t foresee Barack Obama being the next president.

The article concludes:

Here’s the bottom line. Back in 2006, the people of the U.S. were promised a border fence. Since then thanks to Kay Bailey Hutchison and Barack Obama 95% of the fence wasn’t built. The arguments against the fence are bogus especially if you look at Israel’s history. It’s time for America to demand that its leaders build the fence they promised. No one can honestly say it wont work, after all, it hasn’t been tried.

Yesterday after an interview with President Trump, The Daily Caller reported:

President Donald Trump says former House Speaker Paul Ryan promised to secure wall funding while Republicans controlled both Houses in exchange for the president’s signature on the 2018 omnibus spending bill.

But after the president signed the massive, $1.3 trillion spending package, Ryan reneged on his commitment.

“Well, I was going to veto the omnibus bill and Paul told me in the strongest of language, ‘Please don’t do that, we’ll get you the wall.’ And I said, ‘I hope you mean that, because I don’t like this bill,’” the president recounted in an exclusive Wednesday interview with The Daily Caller.

“Paul told me in the strongest of terms that, ‘please sign this and if you sign this we will get you that wall.’ Which is desperately needed by our country. Humanitarian crisis, trafficking, drugs, you know, everything — people, criminals, gangs, so, you know, we need the wall.”

“And then he went lame duck,” Trump said.

“And once he went lame duck, it was just really an exercise in waving to people and the power was gone so I was very disappointed. I was very disappointed in Paul because the wall was so desperately needed. And I’ll get the wall.”

Paul Ryan began well. He stood up to President Obama on various issues (without actually accomplishing anything). He began as a budget hawk, trying to keep spending under control. However, he somehow became part of the Republican establishment and went down the wrong path. I seriously doubt that he ever had any intention of building the wall.

Because I Have To Write Something About The Wall

The Washington Examiner posted an article today about the wall that seems to be responsible for the government shutdown.

The article reports:

According to the results of an ABC News and Washington Post poll released Sunday morning, 42 percent of Americans support a wall. That is up from 34 percent one year ago and a previous high of 37 percent in 2017.

With 54 percent, the majority of Americans polled still oppose building a border wall. However, that opposition is shrinking, as 63 percent opposed the wall a year ago and the previous low was 60 percent two years ago.

The article also reports:

According to the poll, only about a quarter of Americans — 24 percent — believe there is a crisis-level situation in regards to immigration at the border.

That is a very sad statistic. We have drugs coming across the border, human trafficking is happening at the border, and American citizens are being killed by illegal aliens that should not even be in the country. There is a crisis. A wall will not end that crisis, but it will provide a partial solution that will greatly help the border patrol. Either Americans are not well-informed or they don’t see a crisis because it hasn’t directly impacted them. I am not sure which is the case. At any rate, the wall (and the increased border security requested with it) represents such a small part of the federal budget that there shouldn’t even be a question about whether or not to build it.

In Fiscal Year 2019, the federal budget will be $4.407 trillion. Compare the cost of the wall and the increased security at our border with the annual cost of illegal immigration. The wall is a bargain.

Six Major Challenges In 2019

On December 28th, Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial listing what their editors considered would be the top six issues of 2019. The title of the editorial is, “Will 2019 Be Happy? It Depends On How Washington Handles These 6 Challenges.” I suspect that is true.

The editorial lists the six items:

1. The Federal Reserve

2. Trade

3. Immigration

4. The Coming Budget Battle

5. Slaying The Regulatory Dragon

6. Fixing Health Care ‘Reform’

Here are some of the observations from the editorial on each item:

The Fed has raised its benchmark funds rate eight times over two years in pursuit of a “neutral” rate. Its most recent rate hike, coming about a week before Christmas, was followed by a steep decline in stocks and growing concerns that the economy might fall into recession next year if the central bank follows through on its plan to raise rates at least twice more.

It’s of more than academic interest that all 11 of the U.S. recessions since World War II were preceded by a sharp run up in Fed rates. Every one of them. It’s not a record of which to be proud.

…Despite bitter criticisms, President Trump successfully concluded a “new Nafta” deal with both Canada and Mexico covering $1.3 trillion in trade. The deal closes a number of holes in the old Nafta, increasing U.S. access to Canadian dairy markets, for instance, while also making cars tariff-free if 75% of their parts are made in the U.S., Canada or Mexico. All three countries signed off on the deal. The only question is, will it ever go into effect?

With Democrats controlling Congress and just six months for the trade deal to go into effect, some worry that major changes will be requested. President Trump has asked that either the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement be approved outright, or revert to the pre-Nafta trading rules. Congressional Democrats may even challenge Trump’s right to make a deal, putting the so-called USMCA in limbo. Stay tuned.

…With Americans eager to control immigration, as polls repeatedly show, Democrats may decide that negotiation rather than confrontation is a better tactic. That could mean a deal for a pathway to citizenship for the millennial illegal immigrant “dreamers,” many of whom have lived in the U.S. for most of their lives despite not having citizenship. With an estimated 22 million illegals in the U.S., many states are eager to gain some stability in our immigration policy.

…This year’s budget battle over funding the wall will likely pale in comparison to next year’s. The continued growth in entitlements, compounded by the sharp rise in interest payments, thanks to the Fed’s rate hikes, will balloon the deficit. The Congressional Budget Office’s last official projection pegged the deficit for 2019 at $981 billion. It will likely end up topping $1 trillion.

…But as we’ve pointed out many times, the problem isn’t tax cuts, it’s the unwillingness of anyone in Washington — including Trump — to deal with entitlement programs that have swamped the federal budget. Trump and the GOP will have to stand firm on taxes next year, while grappling with a rising tide of debt that will soon surpass $21 trillion.

…ObamaCare limped along for another year, with premiums for 2019 falling, overall, after years of massive double-digit increases. Trump took several steps to improve ObamaCare. The most important fix was to breathe life back into the short-term insurance market that President Obama tried to snuff out to protect the ObamaCare exchanges. Unfortunately, since Republicans blew their chance at repeal, the best we can hope for is that Trump will continue to tweak the law where he can. But he shouldn’t shy away from fighting for more free-market reforms. Should Democrats resist, or start pushing for socialized “Medicare for all,” it will create an opportunity for Trump to paint Democrats as big-government extremists.

The article concludes:

The coming year will be eventful, with many of Trump’s main initiatives set for action by Congress — a Congress, as we noted, that won’t be as friendly to Trump as the last one. Whether Trump and the Democrats can, as the bumper sticker says, coexist, or whether the Trump agenda founders on a never-ending stream of congressional investigations and hearings on the White House, remains to be seen. We guarantee it won’t be boring.

Get out the popcorn.

This Is Called Blackmail

Yesterday Fox News posted an article with the title, “IRS chief warns of refund delays over budget cuts.” You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what is going on here. If people experience delays in getting their tax refunds, they will complain. If they make enough noise, Congress will have to give the IRS more money to get the refunds out promptly. I hope Congress is smarter than that.

The IRS in recent years has abused its power and become a political tool. I think it is time to cut its funding (actually, I think it is time to make it go away and replace the income tax with a consumption tax of some kind).

The article reports:

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen gave details Thursday on ways the tax-collection agency might try to cut costs. He said everything from taxpayer services to enforcement efforts could be affected.

But, in a move that could impact millions, he said there could be a lag in refunds being processed.

“Everybody’s return will get processed,” Koskinen told reporters. “But people have gotten very used to being able to file their return and quickly getting a refund. This year we may not have the resources, the people to provide refunds as quickly as we have in the past.”

In recent years, the IRS says it was able to issue most tax refunds within 21 days, if the returns were filed electronically. Koskinen wouldn’t estimate how long they might be delayed in the upcoming filing season, which is just a few weeks away.

Congress cut the IRS budget by $346 million for the budget year that ends in September 2015. The $10.9 billion budget is $1.2 billion less than the agency received in 2010. The agency has come under heavy fire from congressional Republicans for its now-halted practice of applying extra scrutiny to conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.

I totally support cutting the budget of the IRS. I would also support eliminating the agency.

 

Haven’t These People Read The Constitution ?

CNS News reported yesterday that Representative Nancy Pelosi has suggested that Congress simply give President Obama the power to personally raise the debt ceiling whenever he thinks it is necessary. Hasn’t this woman read the U. S. Constitution?

The article reports:

The Constitution expressly gives the power to borrow money to Congress–not the president. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 2 says: “Congress shall have power … To borrow money on the credit of the United States.”

When he met with members of Congress on Thursday to discuss a deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff that is set to occur at the end of this year, Secretary Geithner suggested that Congress give Obama the personal power as president to lift the legal limit on the federal government‘s debt.

I really can’t think of a worse idea. The article points out that under the arrangement Representative Pelosi proposed, the only limit on the national debt would be President Obama’s willingness to borrow money in the name of American taxpayers. Somehow I doubt that would be any limit at all.

The Constitution was set up to let Congress control the purse strings. Congress is expected to pass an annual budget, and the government is expected to abide by that budget. Unfortunately, The last time the Senate passed a traditional year-long budget was April 29, 2009. Frankly, I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

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Why We Need More Of The Tea Party In Congress

Yesterday John Hinderaker at Power Line posted an article about the recent budget votes in Congress. He echoes the feelings of many Americans in stating that the budget cutting is a sham and that nothing in Washington has changed since 2010.

Jeff Sessions, who voted against the bill, explains why:

Beyond my concerns over the last-minute vote, there are several important reasons why I have decided to oppose the spending bill in its current form. Rhetorically, leaders in Washington have made a commitment to reduce spending. But, if the offsets do not pass—and I fear Senate Democrats will oppose them—Congress will actually end up increasing discretionary spending by $4 billion over last year. Even if the offsets do pass, due to previous discretionary appropriations, Congress will still fall short of the $7 billion discretionary reduction that was promised as part of the budget deal this summer—spending $2 billion more than the $1,043 cap identified as the maximum spending level.

John McCain stated:

“Here we are again,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). “Not one member of this body has read the 1,221 pages of this bill representing $915 billion of the taxpayers’ money. Here we are with 15 minutes to consider a document representing $915 billion of taxpayers’ money filled with unauthorized, unrequested spending.”

“It’s outrageous,” continued McCain. “I have amendments to save billions and billions of the taxpayers’ money, but never mind because we are going home for Christmas.”

We are at this point because the Senate has refused to pass a budget–even when the Democrats controlled the House of Representatives, the White House, and the Senate. As Jeff Sessions pointed out, almost 1,000 days have passed since Senate Democrats have offered a budget.

The Tea Party Republicans in the House of Representatives have made serious efforts to cut the budget. The Democrats and the establishment Republicans have fought them at every turn. There are places where a conservative Republican cannot be elected. I understand that. However, where voters have a choice, we need conservative Republicans to change the climate in Washington. Otherwise, we will have more of the same.

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