Friday, January 7, 2011

Balancing the Budget

Speaker Boehner recently couldn't think of any programs he'd de-fund, I suppose, without a poll or two telling him which ones affect his own constituents the least.

He'd better start thinking of some soon. It's why his party currently controls the House.

As I remember, the outgoing congress never actually passed a budget, which is the first responsibility of the House, but rather, in the waning hours of the year, passed a continuing resolution that lets things go on as they are until March. So come March, the House will get to take up the budget once more. This time I bet we'll see some movement on the issue, although I bet we see some pretty egregious efforts at bribery too.

Balancing the budget isn't hard, you just have to realize that a lot of agencies got as big as they are today by channeling monies into powerful congressmens districts. Thus Republicans from farm states seem to think that tarrifs against foreign agricultural products are a good idea, when coupled with subsidies for locally produced produce. Which is why we pay twice the world price for sugar, for example, and soft drinks are sweetened with corn and beet sugar instead of the better-tasting and cheaper cane sugar.

Budget suggestion: Reduce the Department of Agriculture to a low-level advisory board. Current Budget = $94B

Some 40% of the U.S. corn crop gets burned in our gas tanks in the form of ethanol, which I've ranted about before here. The Department of Energy was originally created to help us become independent of foreign oil, but so far has only made the situation worse.

Budget suggestion: Abolish it. Savings $26B

Not sure what the Department of Education actually does, bit if we reduce it to a committee to establish competency tests for 4th, 8th, and 12th grades, that would certainly suffice. Savings = $59.2B

Department of Homeland Security. Our very own stasi, only without actually doing anything to improve security. Drop your pants and bend over. Savings = $44.3B

Housing and Urban Development. Guarantees loans to people so that banks don't have to worry about defaults (as much). Budget suggestion: Abolish it. Savings = $45.6B

There's 269 billion without trying very hard, and yes, there are some features that it would be worthwhile to retain, but only about 10%. Toss in the $500B the administration is currently proposing to acquire lands, mostly in western states, and there's 3/4 of a trillion bucks right there.

See? Nothing to it.

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