In the last 50 years we have only had a surplus in five years, 1969 and 1998 to 2001. In those five years, we had a Democratic president in 1998-2000 and a Republican in 1969 and 2001. We had a Republican majority in the Senate in 1998-2000 and a Democratic one in 1969 and 2001. The Republicans controlled the House from 1998-2001 and the Democrats in 1969.
I am willing to give both parties credit for the few surpluses we had but, more importantly, blame both parties for giving in and spending too much on too many wants. With only five balanced budgets in the last 50 years and a $16.6 trillion debt, it has to be a spending problem and not a revenue problem because we don’t tax enough.
On Meet The Press recently, the moderator, David Gregory, said we cannot really comprehend what $1 trillion is when we discuss $2.2 trillion in revenue with $3.3 trillion in spending and a $16.6 trillion debt. He said, Chop some zeros and discus it as a family budget and it becomes easier to understand. A family with an income of $22,000 but spending $33,000 a year with a $167,000 credit card bill puts it in a frame we can all understand.
There is no federal spending item that everybody dislikes, so to cut spending we have to separate what we need from what we want with the knowledge that somebody is going to get hurt. I would like to offer as an example the local Starbase program. (I don’t take a position on whether this program is good, bad or mediocre.) It has, according to The Journal Gazette, a $300,000 budget for next year to serve 800 students, and using last year’s attendance costs $375 per student. As students only go one day a week for five weeks and not all students in the area attend, this would appear to fall into the area of want. If parents had to pay 50 percent (or $187) per student to attend, I am sure the attendance would decline sharply if not evaporate, so it can’t be defined as a need like mathematics or English.
We all need to look at what wants we can reduce or don’t really need as when the credit card comes due, the interest rate is going to increase to the point we will have to reduce or eliminate some needs that will really hurt.