One of the tricks the government uses to avoid having its budget trimmed is to make sure that when cuts are called for they are very visible and very painful. Local school departments will threaten sports programs or art and music programs. It’s a game that has been played forever.
The thing to remember about the sequester is that even with the sequester, federal spending this year will be more than it was last year. The culprit is something called baseline budgeting. The basic concept of baseline budgeting is that the federal budget for the year automatically increases a certain percentage from the federal budget from last year. If the budget does not increase by that percent, the smaller increase is seen as a spending cut–even though the spending has increased. Anytime you hear Congress cry ‘wolf’ about spending cuts, you need to remember that they are not spending cuts–they are small decreases in the rate of growth. Please keep that in mind as you read the following.
On Tuesday, the Military Times reported that the military has closed or cut hours at some outdoor swimming pools and water slides on our military bases.
The article reports:
The pools and water parks are typically open to active-duty personnel, family members, military retirees, Defense Department civilians and their guests. The costs can range from free to just a few dollars. The cutbacks are one tangible way the automatic spending cuts are affecting the broader military community.
“Everybody’s a little bit emotional,” said Michael Martin, a spokesman for Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia. “People are a little upset … These decisions are tough. They really are. But in the budgetary climate we’re working in, these are the types of decisions we have to make. It’s unfortunate.”
Martin said the commander for the joint Army and Air Force base had already planned to close the outdoor pool at Fort Eustis in Newport News prior to sequestration, but made the decision to close the outdoor pool at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton following the automatic spending cuts ordered by Congress.
This kind of thing sends me through the roof. Our military works hard, makes unbelievable sacrifices, and is paid little. They don’t deserve to have what little family recreation they have taken away.
In October 2012, the Heritage Foundation listed some of the recent examples of how the government spends money:
- “RoboSquirrel.” $325,000 was spent on a robotic squirrel named “RoboSquirrel.” This National Science Foundation grant was used to create a realistic-looking robotic squirrel for the purpose of studying how a rattlesnake would react to it.
- Cupcakes. In Washington, D.C., and elsewhere across the country, cupcake shops are trending. The 10 cupcake shop owners who received $2 million in Small Business Administration loan guarantees, however, can only boast so much of their entrepreneurial ingenuity, since taxpayers are backing them up.
- Food stamps for alcohol and junk food. Though they were intended to ensure hungry children received healthy meals, taxpayer-funded food stamps were instead spent on fast food at Taco Bell and Burger King; on non-nutritious foods such as candy, ice cream, and soft drinks; and on some 2,000 deceased persons in New York and Massachusetts. Food stamp recipients spent $2 billion on sugary drinks alone. Improper SNAP payments accounted for $2.5 billion in waste, including to one exotic dancer who was making $85,000 per year.
- Beer brewing in New Hampshire. Despite Smuttynose brewery’s financial success and popularity, it is still getting a $750,970 Community Development Block Grant to build a new brewery and restaurant facilities.
- A covered bridge to nowhere. What list of government waste would be complete without a notorious “bridge to nowhere”? In this case, it’s $520,000 to fix the Stevenson Road Covered Bridge in Green County, Ohio, which was last used in 2003.
Follow the link above to read more. To Congress this is a game. To the American military and the American taxpayer it is not a game.
In March, I posted an article about the Congressional Democrats in Massachusetts. They spent nearly $200,000 in bonuses, pay hikes and new hires in a timeworn tradition of end-of-the-year handouts. Despite their concern about closing the federal deficit, the Massachusetts congressmen increased their payroll by $196,000 in the last three months of 2012.
Let’s cut Congress’ budget and leave the swimming pools for our military and their families. While we are at it, let’s ground Air Force One and open up the White House for tours.