Too Much Spending

Ten billion dollars here, $500 million there, a war in Iraq, et cetera. But where exactly does all this money come from? I am no economist, but I can add, and it seems our government cannot. Over the past several months, congressional Democrats, Republicans, and the President have all proposed additions to government spending, vying not only for the usual pork-barrel projects, but also for appeal with their constituencies regarding issues like the environment, education, tax cuts, and the like. While all of this sounds very well and good — who could argue against education? — it is highly impractical. Both parties have been pointing fingers at each other, emphasizing one another’s propensity towards overspending. Each proposes equally outrageous budgets with huge spending increases and no means of additional revenue. Both parties seem to have ignored the fact that money has to come from somewhere. No one wants to pay more taxes, but everyone wants more government spending; likewise, many politicians do not want to look bad by either refusing education spending or increasing taxes. They would much rather paint our fiscal bottom line with red ink and spend more nonexistent capital, oblivious to its scarcity. Examples of this apparent obliviousness are everywhere in today’s politics: The Democrats want more money for education than the Republicans proposed in the President’s new budget; the Republicans want massive tax cuts, taking billions of dollars yearly out of the Treasury; both parties support the plan presented in the President’s State of the Union address regarding massive increases in spending in Africa for, both parties support increased Medicare spending; in light of the Columbia Shuttle tragedy, the President wants to increase NASA spending; Homeland Security, of course, receives its multi-billion dollar endowment; this is all on top of the increased funding for the military. Then there is the war on Iraq which is almost surely going to occur. With this war comes the rebuilding of Iraq. All of this spending, coupled with an economic deficit, cannot add up to a healthy budget. The President claims that the budget deficit for 2004 will be around $300 billion — without the war on Iraq and other related expenses. This single year’s deficit represents a good portion of our pre-existing national debt. It does not take an economist or a mathematician to figure out that these numbers are unhealthy for the future fiscal health of this nation. Most of the spending ideas on the table would be excellent, beneficial programs if the government had the money. The fact is that it does not. States are required to balance their tight budgets — many have had to cut funding to education or let prisoners in low security prisons go free. Although this might serve as an immediate problem for a particular state, in the long run, that state is much better off. Our federal government should follow this lead. Perhaps the budget would be fine were there not so many new additions to national spending. We students are the heirs to this country’s financial problems. As the White House itself states in its budget plan, we have the possibility of being “shackled with the responsibility of paying for the current generation’s overspending.” This is unacceptable. Perhaps our politicians should worry less about their popularity and more about what is in the best interest of the nation. Clearly fiscal responsibility is not on their agenda.