Another Demonstration Of Why Balancing The Federal Budget Is Such A Huge Challenge

ABC News had an interesting story today that demonstrates why cutting spending and balancing the federal budget is so difficult.

The story is based on an email sent out by an unnamed Democratic staff member on the Senate Appropriations Committee subcommittee that will address the Labor and Health and Human Services budget.  The email set up a meeting with hundreds of lobbyists who support programs that fall within that budget and encouraged them to band together to oppose cuts to that budget.  The article quotes the email as saying that “[o]ne thing everyone should be able to agree on now is that a rising tide lifts all boats,” and that a higher budget allocation “improves the chances for every stakeholder group to receive more funding.”

Don’t you just love the phrase “stakeholder group”?  It aptly captures the reality of the out-of-control federal budget, where every bloated federal program is strongly supported by some interest group that has a huge stake in continuing to get funding for their pet program.  And now, thanks in part to the efforts of committee staffers who in reality are beholden to those interest groups rather than to voters, legions of K Street lobbyists will be hired and funded and encouraged to band together to stoutly resist the funding cuts that are essential to restoring some form of fiscal sanity to the federal budget.  The mind reels at the prospects of legions of lobbyists descending on Capitol Hill and of the legislative logrolling, campaign contributions, and stealthy cloakroom deals that will define the budgeting process during this Congress as a result.

Those of us who are interested in reducing the budget deficit and the federal debt shouldn’t kid ourselves.  The people and entities who are dependent on federal programs are highly motivated, well-funded, and will do whatever they can to see that efforts to cut spending are blunted and frustrated at every turn.

2 thoughts on “Another Demonstration Of Why Balancing The Federal Budget Is Such A Huge Challenge

  1. Our problem is that we have to deal with the budget and debt situation as it now exists. Everyone seems to agree that our current course of spending and trillion-dollar budget deficits is “unsustainable.” We have to change course unless we want to end up in the kind of predicament that other countries are facing — where the cost of financing their debt has skyrocketed and creditors are forcing sovereign governments to engage in across-the-board belt-tightening.

    For that reason, I respectfully disagree that we cannot, and should not, consider prudent cuts to spending. I think our elected representatives need to roll up their sleeves and get down to the hard, difficult task of making choices about where we spend our revenues. We need to consider what is essential and what is not — and I believe that there are a number of federal subsidies and federal programs that simply are not essential. I do not believe that cutting such subsidies and programs will necessarily have an impact on jobs — with world-wide food prices surging, for example, would elimination of federal subsidies for growing certain crops really affect jobs? — but in any case I don’t think any incremental impact on employment should cause us to hesitate in examining and reducing federal spending. If we don’t do it now, creditors inevitably will force us to do it in the future.

    I also think that revenues should be part of the equation. As my post today on corporate taxes indicates, our tax code is a mess. Along with a prudent approach to spending, Congress also needs to take a prudent approach to revenue if we are going to work our way out of our deficit hole.


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