Indiana Senator Evan Bayh has called on the President to freeze discretionary spending in the new budget. Mr. Bayh is looking in the right direction, just not nearly far enough since discretionary spending ballooned 28-percent in the current budget. To his credit, President Obama appears to be ready to announce just that.
Sorry! This is a drop in the bucket. It is like an unemployed family deciding they can't afford to go to the movies and buy popcorn this weekend.
In the face of a $14-tillion-plus and growing federal debt, Congress needs to take a surgical scalpel, not a paring knife, to incise bloated federal spending.
Here are some suggestions:
1. Cut the budget of every federal department, except defence, NSA and CIA, by 10%. That would save taxpayers billions in a budget that now exceeds 3.55-trillion. How many Hoosier families have had to cut their household budgets by that percent or even more since one-in-nine Hoosiers is now unemployed and many more are under-employed.
2. Eliminate redundancy in federal programs like the nine different federal agencies that oversee 105 math and science programs, a fact uncovered by the office of Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK). And the man his fellow senators call "Dr. No" has uncovered many more areas of overlap and redundancy which have fallen on deaf ears in Congress - but voters are listening.
3. Eliminate the 5000-plus earmarks in the upcoming budget proposal - period.
4. Dismantle the ballooning Department of Education. It was first proposed by progressive president Woodrow Wilson and finally enabled by Jimmy Carter, a progressive heavyweight. The Department of Education's (DOE) current budget of 46.7-billion includes a 5000-plus employee bureaucracy. And the DOE's regular budget was generously augmented by 81.1 billion in stimulus funds. Wow! That's a two-for-one hike via the stimulus bill. Education should be the purview of parents, local school boards and the state - not the federal government. By not pumping 46.7-billion into the federal Treasury would leave a lot of revenue to plow into local programs for schools. And I feel certain that money would be better spent in local hands and with more cost-benefit achievement. Since the DOE was established in the late 1970's, test scores have gone down, drop-out rates have gone up and American kids have been shortchanged compared with their peers in other industrialized counties. It is time for a change. It is time to do what Ronald Reagan failed to do, close the doors of the Department of Education bureaucracy and let parents, schools boards and states regain full control of educating their children. If you divide the DOE's budget between the 50 states, you would have nearly enough to cover the cuts Gov. Mitch Daniels and the Indiana legislature have had to make to keep the state's education budget in balance.
5. Cut the pay of Senators, Congressmen, their staffs and the White House staff by 10% and the operating budgets for their offices by the same amount. Let the pain be shared. And put a freeze on raises until the nation's economy improves and unemployment drops below 5%.
6. Congress should set a reasonable income level at which Americans no longer qualify for monthly social security payments. Warren Buffet and Bill Gates come to mind as successful Americans who could probably make it through the month without social security. This could be a start toward making social security a little more solvent in the future for those Americans who must depend on the monthly stipend.
These suggestions are so basic and represent only a start in reining in a federal government that has bulked up too long on taxpayer growth supplements.