Government Spending & Budget


As many Federal departments and agencies lurch into an era
of running without funds, the leaders of both parties of Congress
are spending less and less time searching for a compromise to
balance the budget, and more and more time deciding how to use it
to their advantage on the campaign trail. Meanwhile money is
easily borrowed to pay for government overhead. In an attempt to
change this, on June 29, Congress voted in favor of HConRes67
that called for a 7 year plan to balance the Federal Budget by
the year 2002 (Hager 1899). This would be done by incorporating
$894 billion in spending cuts by 2002, with a projected 7 year
tax cut of $245 billion. If this plan were implemented, in the
year 2002, the U.S. Government would have the first balanced
budget since 1969.

There is doubt by citizens that a balanced budget will
become reality. A recent Gallop Poll from January, 1996 showed
the budget as the #1 concern among taxpayers, but 4/5 of those
interviewed said they doubt the GOP will do the job (Holding
14). Meanwhile, an ABC poll from November reported that over 70%
of those polled disapprove of the current performance by
Congress, and most blamed politicians for failure to take action
(Cloud 3709). These accusations of failure to follow through
come with historical proof that Congress and Clinton have failed
to compromise and resolve the issue. After all, current budget
plans are dependent on somewhat unrealistic predictions of
avoiding such catastrophes as recession, national disasters,
etc., and include minor loopholes. History has shown that every
budget agreement that has failed was too lax. One might remember
the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings bill that attempted to balance the
budget, but left too many exemptions, and was finally abandoned
in 1990 (Weinberger 33).

So after a pain-staking trial for GOP Republicans to
create, promote, and pass their budget, as promised on campaign
trail 94, Clinton rejected the very bill he demanded. This
essentially brought the federal budget back to square one.
Clinton thought such a demand on Republicans to produce a budget
would produce inner-party quarrels and cause the GOP to implode.
Instead, they produced a fiscal budget that passed both houses of
Congress, only to be stalemated by a stubborn Democratic
President Clinton. Meanwhile, Clinton bounced back with a CBO
scored plan with lighter, less risky cuts to politically
sensitive areas like entitlements. Clinton\'s plan also saved
dollars for education and did not include a tax increase, but
most cuts would not take effect until he is out of office, in the
year 2001. Although Clinton is sometimes criticized for producing
a stalemate in budget talks, the White House points out that the
debt has gone down since Clinton took office, with unemployment
also falling. Republicans are quick to state that Clinton
originally increased taxes in 1993 and cut defense programs, but
his overall plan was for an increasing budget without deficit
reduction.

Startling Facts about the budget:

As of 1996, the national debt was at an all time high of
$5 trillion dollars, with interest running at a whopping $250
billion per year (Rau M-1). This equals out to an individual
responsibility of more than $50,000 per taxpayer. Nearly 90% of
that debt has accumulated since 1970, and between 1980 and 1995,
the debt grew by 500%. Currently, the debt grows by more than
$10,000 per second (Rau M-l), and at current rates, a baby born
in 1992 will pay 71% of his or her income in net taxes. At
current rates, our government is about to reach its breaking
point. If that\'s not enough to scare a taxpayer, by 2002, 60% of
government spending will be for entitlements, and by 2012, these
programs are projected to take up all government revenue (Dentzer
32). Not only economic development, but also family income is
hurt by debt. With the cost of living going up, it becomes harder
to find a job. According to the Concord Coalition, real wages
peaked in 1973 and have gone down ever since. If the economy grew
as fast as it did in 1950, without a debt, the median family
income would be $50,000, compared to the present median of
$35,000 (Rau M-1). As of current fiscal year\'s budget, the United
States government spends $1.64 trillion yearly. $500 billion of
that, or 1/3 of the total, is for discretionary spending (Rau M-
1). This discretionary spending is the target for most cuts, and
seems to be the easiest to make cuts in. Overall, the difference
between the two parties budget plans is only $400 billion. This
could easily be trimmed by eliminating tax cuts and adjusting the
consumer price index