Getting the Country out of Debt (It’s not Rocket Science)

The country is teetering on the brink of financial collapse.   Getting our fiscal house in order is not just an economic imperative.  It’s a matter of national security.

We now have competing budgets offered by President Obama and House Republican Budget Chair Paul Ryan.   When faced with all the numbers and the sheer size of the federal budget, the average citizen may be tempted to throw up his or her hands.  Don’t despair!  It’s not rocket science.

Our national budget is not all that different from that of the average family.  Just scratch out the zeroes and break it down into manageable parts.

A family is faced with fixed expenses.  In Washington, it’s called “mandatory spending.”  Next come the absolute necessities and discretionary income.   Your fixed expenses are the notes you’ve taken on that have to be repaid: your mortgage, car loan, minium credit card payments, etc.  Next you have the necessities, which can be tweaked, like utilities, transportation and food (not the kind you’d like but the kind you need for sustenance).  Lastly, we have our discretionary income which has to cover everything else.

The “everything else” includes trips to the dentist, shoes, clothes, school supplies, etc. and those emergencies that always come.   No family can stay on sound financial footing without an emergency fund.  Guess what?  Our government doesn’t have one.

When a family is sinking deeper into debt and facing insolvency, some major adjustments have to be made.   That family must eliminate all unnecessary spending.   No eating out (beans and rice at home),  no new clothes (or pots and pans, towels or sheets), no cable TV, no movies, no vacations, no I-Tunes and just basic phone service.  No wants, just needs.

If there still isn’t enough money left over to cover the fixed expenses (mandatory spending) and basic necessities without borrowing, something must be done on the mandatory side.   Sell the cars and get a used “beater” car you can afford, or two if there is ABSOLUTELY no way to exist with one.

Next, sell the house and get one you can afford or rent.  If you are upside down on your mortgage, do a short sell and, as a last resort, just let it go.   Then, pay off the credit cards and put aside an emergency fund before adding back anything that is nonessential.  It’s basic common sense.

Unfortunately, common sense is in short supply in Washington.  That’s where you and I come in.  We have to hold our elected representatives accountable.    That means dumping those who refuse to accept the reality of our present situation at the first available opportunity.  Presently, we are still haggling over whether to cut $33 billion or $61 billion (2% or 4%)  from the discretionary side of the present (2011) budget.  That’s ludicrous!   If we cannot cut $61 from the present budget, there is no hope for the future.

Congress must do what a family that’s in financial difficulty must do: no more, no less.   Distinguish between “wants” and absolute necessities.  There is no money to fund various charities, no matter how worthy some of them may be.  If the work of a charity is important enough, it will be funded by private contributions.

There is no money for entertainment of any sort whether it’s the Corporation for Public Broadcasting,  National Endowment for the Arts or cowboy poetry gatherings.  Can’t afford it.  End of story.   Again, those that are deemed worthy will be supported by the public.  Some will not.

There is no money for corporate welfare or agri-welfare of any kind.  The government simply should not be picking winners and losers.  Companies that offers a desirable or needed products or services at a fair price will win.  Companies that do not will lose.

Likewise, there is no reason that the federal government should be funding research or education.  The former is better left to the private sector and the latter is a job for the states.  As for higher education, ever heard of working your way through college?

Everyone knows that we cannot balance our budget without going into the mandatory side of the budget and tackling the big things like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.   This is like a family tackling the home mortgage and the fancy cars.  In their present form, these things cannot be sustained.

The president’s budget is a disgrace.  The Ryan budget is at least a start.   Putting the nation on sound financial footing is not a pleasant job but it’s got to be done.  Many families have done the hard work.  Now it’s time for our elected representatives to do the same.

Stay engaged!

8 thoughts on “Getting the Country out of Debt (It’s not Rocket Science)

  1. Putting the 22% unemployed to work and off welfare is much better way of balancing the budget. First, place a tariff on all imports equal to the differential in wages. This measure would bring back the factories and tens of million Middle Class jobs. Second, deport all fifty million illegal aliens and their families and give their low-end jobs to our people, saving hundreds of billion dollars annually in welfare, medical, hospitalization, incarceration and education costs.

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  2. tell me, do your readers really buy this rubbish?
    i pointed out to you in your last ridiculous post about taking a logic class. i do hope you listened.

    now the simpletons view of economics. there are so many wrongs about this that it’s hard to decide where to begin.

    ah hail, let’s just go with this. the president’s plan is a disgrace. according to who? you? you want to explain that or are we again to take it as fact because you managed to type it out?

    so tell me, if riding a bike excludes lance from being brilliant what does that make you? you have no qualifications at all for offering advice on economics. none. you being able to fly a plane makes you qualified? being a sportscaster? being opinionated? that somehow give you validity? we know how brilliant one must be to have an opinion, to fly a plane, to report sports.

    people listen to this rubbish?

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  3. Right on the money, Jane! I’m sure our politicians “understand” those simple, but effective, principles…it’s just that they don’t have the guts to actually implement them. That’s because they want to be relected, which is every politician’s foremost objective. Perhaps that’s why you should run for President. You’d certainly get my vote! Keep up the good work…and the great common sense 🙂

    G

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  4. Good morning Jane:

    Excellent article! Keep up the good work. The only questions that I have is “Why punish those not responsible for this situation?” I am a federal employee and am being forced to sacrifice for what our Federal Reserve and politicians perpetrated upon us. I am sure that by now you’ve read about the huge portion of the federal bailout money that went to foreign banks and foreign financial institutions. The money that was distributed within the U.S. went to bonuses at big banks and financial institutions. Few, if any, people like you and I saw a single penny of the bailout money.
    With all that being said, why try to solve this budget fiasco on the backs of the hard working federal employees whom had nothing to do with this scenario? They are already paying an exorbitant sacrifice for the sins of others. I would think that legislation stating that our politicians would have their pay taken away for each and every day beyond the due date that they allow the country to operate sans a signed budget.
    Some things just don’t make any sense.

    Kind Regards,

    Mike

    P.S. Tell Rick to go jump in a lake. His directionless drivel not only annoys me, it is synonamous with what is wrong with this country.

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  5. Directionless drivel? You seem to have missed the point of my post which is about, uh, her directionless drivel.

    Tell me, what about her post is not directionless drivel? She repeats the talking points as though they are her own thoughts, gives no anaylsis to them and comes up with some simpletons view of world economics. This is substance for you?

    Please explain how challenging this is synomous with what’s wrong with this country? Surely you have something more no? It’s synonomous how? Tell me you have something, anything, more.

    Why I would offer that people making ridiculous claims without knowing what they’re talking about and not being questioned on their qualifications is certainly something that’s wrong with this country.

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  6. Rick apparently is not concerned about his $50,000 part of the national debt nor his wife’s $50,000 nor the $50,000 for each of his children that will have to be paid back sometime.

    Many government programs are good programs and do good things. The biggest problem is that the constitution does not permit them. Building an airport for what is basically a private utility for a congressman in Pennsylvania? Get serious.

    Social security is a good program and would be solvent if congress had not authorized inclusion of illegals and people who did not contribute more than a few years.

    I don’t have a problem with Federal Workers. There are too many Federal non-workers who can not be fired because of rules imposed by congress. Look at the increase in the number of federal employees since Obama and the increase in pay at a time when the rest of the country is in recession. The average federal employee has an income one third higher than the average non-federal worker. There is no reason other than buying votes to get re-elected.

    Jane, keep up the good work (AKA directionless drivel).

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  7. Most of what you state happens to be astonishingly legitimate and it makes me wonder the reason why I had not looked at this in this light before. Your article really did switch the light on for me as far as this particular subject goes.

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  8. I can’t stand the arrogance some people exude about their own abilities. For those who claim the economics of the budget is “not rocket science” and then make themselves out to be ignorant of details of such a topic, get over yourselves. This is why, even though I can’t stand Democrats, I lean their direction way more often than the GOP (btw, I don’t vote – it’s a waste of my time.) According to the Federal Reserve, we have about $11T in circulation (money supply). The Federal debt is about $17T, with private and state debt adding around another $20T – $30T (generous underestimates). We only have $11T to pay off more than $35T in debt. So what happens if the govt were to put in place a budget that was “responsible” enough to pay off the debt? Well, every dollar in circulation would go towards that debt and there would still be debt left over! This is 2 + 2 mathematics here. Now, you may argue that as the govt gets out of debt it allows banks to lend more money to private citizens and corporations. That may be true, but if we’re already overwhelmed with debt who’s going to pick up the slack of an additional $17T? In order for our economy to function properly, there has to be enough money in circulation and paying off debt shrinks the supply – thereby hurting the economy.

    Get over your overzealous conservative ideology and come up with a good solution. Hint: Adjusting the budget is not where you start.

    P.S. If you think this isn’t rocket science and you get it completely wrong, how stupid are you?

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