…is paved with good intentions, or so the saying goes.  In the dueling budget debates, it’s quite apropos.  Whether you favor the President’s 4 trillion dollars in cuts over 12 years, or Congressman Ryan’s 6 trillion over 10 years, neither plan solves the problem of spending more than we take in.

The Ryan plan reduces the debt by 6 trillion dollars, but only in the sense that the debt will be 6 trillion less than it would be if we did nothing.  The national debt will still be far beyond what it is today at the end of the 10 years.  The President’s plan works much the same way, only cutting less and over a longer period of time.

Neil Cavuto of the Fox Business Network, explained it quite well on his show.  It’s akin to setting a target to get in shape 30 years from now.  Ryan’s plan, if it remained unchanged, would bring our budget into balance and eliminate the federal debt in 40 years.  If you’re under the age of 30 that might offer you some sense of security, however as an aging society most of us wouldn’t live to see a day when the United States didn’t owe money to foreign entities.

The President’s plan is even worse.  His plan might never resolve the federal debt, but rather hold it in check some 50 years out.

Any of this projections are pretty meaningless.  A lot can happen over 10 years, let alone 40.  We’re certainly going to see a variety of crisis that would likely derail any savings.  Both plans are no-pain/no-gain programs.  While both parties are likely to demagogue each other’s plan, the fact is there’s a lot in both plans that counts on rosy scenarios and questionable account that aren’t much better than praying for a winning lottery ticket.

Throw out nearly everything you’re hearing from Washington.  When you live high on the hog you have to expect some pain if you truly want to change things.  It’s time to swallow deep and take the bitter medicine.  Am I proposing tax increases?  Absolutely not.  We have to do everything we can to encourage robust growth of our economy or regardless of the pain we will quickly lose traction.  It’s time that we consider drastic changes to our tax code, such as a flat tax and a reduction of tax deductions to the minimum number that directly effect economic growth such as investments and home ownership.

We cannot lose the home interest deduction.  One of the hallmarks of the American dream is home ownership and without the home interest deduction home ownership would likely become beyond the means of a majority of the public.  Here are a few other ideas:

  • Tax subsidies must go away.  Encouraging a particular technology or industry is not something our government should participate in.  As a capitalistic society we should allow market forces to encourage the market place and not a particular political ideology.
  • Foreign aid must be slashed if not completely eliminated.
  • Defense spending should be scrutinized to ensure all money spent is directed to strengthening our posture and not paying back political debts.
  • The Department of Education must be eliminated.  States are best able to manage their education systems and the benefit of a federal component is virtually non-existent.
  • What does the Commerce Department do?  I don’t know and I’ll bet you don’t either; say goodbye.
  • Congressional office budgets should be cut to 25% of their current levels.  No member of congress needs to have 40 civil servants carrying their water.  If that’s too hard, go home.
  • Reduce the size of the IRS by two-thirds.  Simplifying the tax code eliminates the need for thousands of auditors and lawyers.
  • Eliminate all non-essential parts of the Agriculture Department.  Food safety is essential, most everything else they do is not.
  • Interior Department.  Seriously, can you name something they’ve done for you?  Put management of U.S. Parks into another department and get rid of the rest.
  • Reduce White House staff by half.  Sell the Vice President’s mansion.  Before 1974 all Vice Presidents either bought a house of their own or rented.  Walter Mondale was the first resident of the Vice President’s mansion.  That should be enough to demonstrate how unnecessary it is.  How did we ever survive for nearly 200 years without a Vice President’s mansion?  Quite well, thank you.
  • Allow all folks under the age of 40 the option of investing pre-tax dollars, in any manner they choose, or send them to Washington for Social Security.  One or the other.  You choose and you deal with the outcome, just like anyone investing in a 401K.
  • Unleash American energy producers by eliminating nearly all regulations.  The thousands of regulations we already have on the books did nothing to prevent the Deep Water Horizon from sinking to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.  We don’t enforce two-thirds of all regulations, but what we do is force private businesses to spend trillions of dollars to comply.  Lease any public land for energy exploration where the producer can prove that their efforts will not disturb the environment and can be returned to pre-exploration status at any future date.
  • Hate health insurance companies if you like, but the facts are that they are more than a thousand times more effective than either federal or state Medicaid administrators.  Where Paul Ryan is right is the concept of block grants to states, however where I differ is that I don’t want states administering Medicaid either.  Grants should be provided to states based on economic need and the dollars should go into a fund where private insurance companies can compete to get funds in a free and open competition.
  • After Obamacare is struck by the Supreme Court, make all pre-existing condition requirements by insurance companies illegal, including any cost differential based on anything other than age.  Everyone of the same age pays the same, spreading the cost across millions of enrollees providing a flat and predictable premium structure.  Instead of Medicare, dollars should go to purchase insurance policies for those over the age of 65.  This eliminates all Medicare fraud and removes any incentives for providers to suggest unnecessary services.

I could go on and on.  The fact that there are nearly as many options for getting government out of the way of free commerce as there are dollars in the debt shows how far we’ve drifted from the vision of the founders.  They must be spinning in their graves when they see the bureaucracy we’ve created.

Is this the perfect solution?  Of course not.  There is no perfect solution.  We’ve created thousands of special interests groups all of which would decry the hateful and destructive solutions I’ve proposed; these are but random thoughts on the insane and ineffective systems we’ve built.  Most could vanish in a moment and after the demagogic uproar faded we’d find ourselves light-years ahead of where we are.

I am not a Libertarian, but I do believe that the best government is the least government.  I am a conservative.  Where I differ from Libertarians is that I believe that we have a mutual responsibility to ensure that threats beyond our borders do not infringe upon our economic or national security.  That being said I probably agree with 90% of what Libertarians believe.

Government cannot solve government’s problems.  It’s time for a committee of non-governmental entities, everyday people, to delve into the operation of our government and restructure it so that it meets the needs of the citizenry and not the megalithic political society that Thomas Jefferson felt was the greatest threat to our republic.