Friday, July 8, 2011

A balanced budget amendment

The Congress critters are talking this up. But does it really do anything? A balanced budget occurs when authorized spending is less than estimated revenues. An ancient method of "balancing" a budget is simply to estimate more revenue. Presto, chango, look we have a balanced budget, on paper.
Then there is the "off-budget" scam. Like the post office. USPS is really a government operation, but since it was "privatized" it doesn't show up on the federal budget. Lots of other things could be moved off budget too.
And then there is the emergency escape hatch. In times of dire emergency it will be OK to go in the red. And somehow every year has a dire emergency, and therefore we can spend more than we take in for "just that year".
Polls show that 72% of voters are in favor of a balanced budget amendment. But the same polls show that only 30% of voters are in favor of a balanced budget amendment if it cut their benefits or raised their taxes.
Translation, the voters are in favor of reduced spending, but they don't want to talk about bad things like cuts and tax hikes. Understandable.
Politicians can curry favor with voter by talking about balanced budget amendments rather than bad things like cuts and tax hikes.
We will go down the same drain the Greeks are going down if politicians won't talk about cuts and tax hikes.

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