No government activity is more notoriously fraudulent than budgeting. The system is a farce.
Take the sequester cuts, for example. If you listen to the media, Congress, agency heads, and even the president, you might get the impression that the budget is being cut.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
In gross and real dollars, most agencies and government programs are spending more dollars this year than last. In D.C., amidst all of the talk and scare tactics about cutting back spending, just about all of the frenzy is unfounded.
Even the House Budget Committee’s own figures show that more money is being spent than ever before. In fact, during Obama’s first two years, while businesses and families were scraping by, federal domestic discretionary expenditures soared by 84%, with many agencies doubling or tripling spending.
The Scary Truth About “Budgeting”
You see, every agency sits around and dreams up ways to spend more money, and then they write a budget.
They include every program they can imagine; and if anyone from that point on suggests trimming anything, the suggestion is denounced far and wide as a cut to the budget.
I vividly remember working in the Office of Program and Policy at the Agency for International Development.
A panic would set in around budget time if we hadn’t spent all of last year’s funds. Everyone sat around brainstorming ways to spend more money until every last penny was gone. Obviously, in our own personal budgets, we do the complete opposite. When we’re able to trim in one area, we appreciate the savings.
So why is the government’s process so backwards?
Because government agency heads are recognized by and paid according to the number of employees they have and the money they can ladle out.
If you want to have more power in D.C., you must dish out more money to contractors, consultants, employees, and programs. There‘s a one-to-one correlation between the money you spend and your relevance.
The Obamacare Effect
For example, Secretary Kathleen Sibelius and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are much more important and powerful today than when Barack Obama took office. Their power is tied directly to the passage of Obamacare.
HHS no longer affects just the elderly and welfare recipients. It controls the medical plan of every single American.
In the past, only pharmaceutical and hospital companies came to lobby about reimbursements for Medicaid and Medicare funds.
But now, every state and local government, all large businesses with a certain number of employees, and each and every union have to get the green light or a waiver from Sibelius and HHS. More spending equals more power.
And this connection is terrible for our economy and our government. Our legislators must learn to curb spending in sensible ways and reward agencies for frugality, not for lavish overspending.
I think that the talk about sequestering needs to be reframed. Instead of using the deceitful word “cut”, the more positive word “savings” should be discussed.
The idea that the budget is being cut is a cruel joke on the taxpayers, and it surrounds budget cuts with a negative stigma. To all of our lawmakers – let’s reframe the savings debate in a positive, economically healthy way.
This article originally appeared at CapitolHillDaily.com and is reprinted here with permission.