What’s In That Bucket?

At last the “Sequester” has arrived.  President Obama sign the executive order yesterday officially authorizing $85 billion in forced reduction in Government expenditures.  So far none of the dire consequences have materialized but it is less than 24 hours later.

I am pretty sure the “Head Start” teachers will be back at work on Monday, although for how long I am not sure.  I plan to stock up on meat products this weekend before the food inspectors are furloughed.  I have no airplane trips planned, so for the time being, I won’t be inconvenienced by fewer TSA agents.  For a while, it looks like I am out of harms way.

Annual Federal expenditures are about $3.7 trillion.  The Sequester cuts of $85 billion, or 2.3%.  All this excitement must make you wonder what makes up the rest of government spending?

It should also make us wonder if all this spending is necessary in the first place.  In many cases I am sure most of us could go without a particular expenditure and see no harm.   The question is which ones?

The Heritage Foundation provided its view.  The raw data and many of their report’s observations make a well chiseled impression.  Our Country’s fiscal house has been out of control for several decades.  Entitlements and frivolous agency spending would be Heritage’s way of summarizing.  This may be only a partial view but math wise it is shockingly revealing.

During this same period of time, however, while the deficits were growing, the gap between the very rich and the middle class/poor were widening.  More and more people, especially seniors became less able to obtain medical care.  More and more people fell into poverty.

A case can be made that much of the rise in government spending was intended to assist those who were losing out in the wealth accumulation contest.  While well intended, the government spending has done nothing to reverse the trends of poverty or increase blue collar workers’ well being.  Even more dramatic, entitlements have had little or no control upon rising healthcare costs.

Rising healthcare costs in turn have driven up Medicare and Medicaid expenditures, and have motivated private sector employers to suppress wages and salaries for legitimate profitability reasons.

Let’s hope the “Sequester” brings some real discomfort to Americans.  While we are waiting in lines or suffering some other indignity, we can look over the Heritage Report and see that while reducing government expenditures by 2% is directional correct, it is a drop in the bucket.

Worse, the “Sequester” demonstrates a total lack of understanding the deficit problem.


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2 Comments on “What’s In That Bucket?”

  1. “Let’s hope the “Sequester” brings some real discomfort to Americans.” I’m not quite sure what you are trying to say.

    • Hausfrau, thanks for stopping by…

      Americans spend twice as much for health care than other modern countries and receive only (on average) mediocre care… America’s defense spending is close to all other countries combined… US K-12 education is second most expensive in the world and produce very mediocre results… The US Federal budget is unbalanced by over $1 trillion and the best we can do is standby while a poorly conceived $85 trillion forced reduction apparently threatens our everyday lives… Something is seriously wrong with this picture.

      By discomfort, I am dreaming that Americans will get mad and finally wake up to what has been going on for some time. In other posts I have written that the US needs to total change our health care delivery system… treat all residents as one pool… that would eliminate Medicare, Medicaid, and employer involvement (of course it would need funding but a dedicated VAT plus some means tested co-pays could solve that.

      Fixing health care would fix one half the deficit… the rest including defense is more difficult but a combination of increased taxes and further cuts would be more achievable.

      The big thinkers would opt for policies that narrow the gulf between the rich and everyone else. In this manner the middle class could soldier more tax burden because relatively speaking they would be earning more.

      For starters, I think entitlements meaning Medicare and Medicaid are the starting point. (Social Security is also a looming threat but tweaking the formula for onset of benefits could provide a lot of relief.)

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