published Monday, February 25th, 2013

Smith: Time to act Tennessee solutions in D.C.: Balance budget now

By Robin Smith
  • photo
    Robin Smith, former Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party and congressional candidate.
    File Photo/Chattanooga Times Free Press

During this week, the U.S. government will reach its 1,400th day operating without a budget. Every year a budget has been passed in the House but never addressed in the Senate. The White House has submitted budget plans, but those have been rejected on a bipartisan basis.

After almost four years of neglecting the most basic constitutional duty of Congress, a piece of legislation sponsored by Sen. Lamar Alexander is aiming to end this disgusting embarrassment of having no budget.

At its essence, the legislation proposes an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would require that: "Total outlays for any fiscal year shall not exceed total receipts for that fiscal year, unless two-thirds of the duly chosen and sworn members of each house of Congress shall provide by law for a specific excess of outlays over receipts by a roll call vote."

Like most governors, the federal government would be required to balance its budget. Like any business that remains functional, the U.S. government would be required to formulate a plan to prioritize spending, make difficult decisions, and fund the necessities first.

A balanced budget amendment would force accountability in Washington that our great state of Tennessee, and countless others, must meet. Fiscal discipline should not be viewed negatively, but as a trait characteristic of our great nation.

It's no irony that this bill is originating from the very legislative body and sponsored by the very members, such as Sen. Alexander, who've been adamant about solving our nation's spending problem, addressing the mandatory spending for entitlements to secure their future existence and demanding presidential leadership rather than the endless campaigning and heckling of those who should be partners in rendering a remedy.

Sens. Alexander and Bob Corker have proposed a solution that would end the pay of members of Congress if a budget is not passed with all appropriations bills by Oct. 1 of each year to fund our government, the "No Budget, No Pay Act."

Most recently, our Tennessee Senators submitted a serious plan to address the debt in the "Dollar-for-Dollar Act" that targets entitlement spending and reduces its malignant growth by $1 trillion.

Understand: If entitlement spending is ignored and the fable is continued that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are just fine in their current forms, these programs will end. The Congressional Budget Office forecasts that by 2025 (in just 12 years) every single dollar coming into the U.S government will be completely consumed to fund these programs plus the interest on our debt.

That's it. No money for infrastructure or roads. No funding for the military or defense. No money for education. With the current policies and defiance in the face of a crisis, the United States will become a complete entitlement state. Period.

Is there hope? Well, last week's hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee placed an Obama Administration official, Danny Werfel, center-stage dancing around the fact there is no plan that exists to save Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid from President Obama. Attempts to weave, deflect, and reframe were met with the simple question by Senator Alexander: "So, states have to balance their budgets. Why is it at the federal government we don't ... do what everybody knows we have to do, which is get control of entitlement spending..."

Folks, America has a serious problem. Tennessee is providing leadership in moving directly toward solutions through Alexander and Corker by reforming entitlements and formulating a budget.

It's time to act. Taking Tennessee principles to D.C. is the answer.

Robin Smith served as chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican Party from 2007 to 2009. She is a partner at the SmithWaterhouse Strategies business development and strategic planning firm.

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nucanuck said...

Robin in Dreamland

Talk of a balanced budget amendment is a politically appealing topic for the party out of power, but mostly just serves for polital posturing. Should such an amendment be passed, Congress would have to eliminate millions of jobs, pushing the economy into an instant tailspin. It ain't gonna happen.

We will go down spending and printing until the US dollar is refused for payment. Think it can't happen? Think again. The Central Bankers of the developed world are expanding the money supply at a fever pitch trying to jockey for trade advantage and destroying confidence while so doing.

In full knowledge of this, the trade surplus nations are investing heavily in precious metals and real stores of value. Economic power (and wealth) is shifting rapidly away from the West to the East.

While the US and NATO spend untold billions seeking to dominate poor but resourse rich countries in the Middle East and Africa, the developing countries are negotiating trade deals that are likely to be far more effective than military interventions.

The Republicans like to talk about a balanced budget, but they are the party of the neo-conservatives who never saw a war that they didn't want to fight...with our children doing their fighting. Wars don't balance budgets!

I will listen to balanced budget proposals the very day that the GOP and Demos talk about a military to defend our country rather than dominate the world. Until then, no one is truly serious about spending. The security apparatus is the single biggest money pit in the US budget.

And yes, Medicare has to be overhauled and Social Security has to be adjusted, but first we must find the political will to define a fair foreign policy that respects the rights of all sovereign nations and all peoples. That can only happen after a worldwide military pullback to within our own borders.

Humility is the virtue that we must seek out.

February 25, 2013 at 1:15 a.m.
jjmez said...

nucanuck, they want to secede and make Texas their capitol. %> rolleyes. What they don't understand, Texas wouldn't even exist without help from the federal government. The state of Texas would become the desolate, dried up, parched desert it actually is if the federal government pulled out all those military bases presently operating within the state. Not to mention other federal incentives and goodies that provide jobs and higher standard of living for most its citizens. Many of those states crying to secede wouldn't even be able to afford a stop sign or traffic light without help from the federal overnment. And why these individals diehardfollowers are willing to follow them over the cliff is mindboggling.

February 25, 2013 at 8:49 a.m.
timbo said...

The only thing wrong with the sequester is that it doesn't cut enough. Layouts in budget cuts, it's about time that federal employees injured the real world.

February 25, 2013 at 9:14 a.m.
Easy123 said...

Why did the deficit/debt only start to matter [to Republicans] when Barack Obama became President?

February 25, 2013 at 12:18 p.m.
tipper said...

Ms. Smith, as usual, misses the point. We do not have a debt or spending crisis. We have a crisis of confidence in our Congress, particularly with Republicans. Any bill that avoids cuts in the massively bloated defense budget proves how Republicans legislators are controlled by defense contractors. Ms.Smith with her blind loyalty to the tea party is lucky she lives in a vivid red state where her opinions are held sacred. She would be hardly read at all in the rest of the country where most people see reality quite differently.

February 25, 2013 at 7:42 p.m.
Stewwie said...

[Why did the deficit/debt only start to matter [to Republicans] when Barack Obama became President?]

It's never not mattered, Easy. However, the Republicans look like the most interested party in reducing the crazy deficit. Obama was supposed to have it cut in half by now anyway. But it's much easier to play the blame game instead of finding real solutions.

[We do not have a debt or spending crisis.]

False.

[We have a crisis of confidence in our Congress, particularly with Republicans.]

A spending problem is still a spending problem no matter if the congressional approval rating is on the high end or the low end. Republicans have proposed real solutions but Obama and the Dems have been resistant to reasonably consider those.

February 25, 2013 at 10 p.m.
Easy123 said...

Stewwie,

"It's never not mattered, Easy."

False. Bush 2 cut taxes and increased spending causing the deficit to go up. Dick Cheney coined the phrase: "Deficits don't matter". The deficit increased under Reagan as well. Which part of that sounds like deficits matter to Republicans? Why weren't you bitching then?

"However, the Republicans look like the most interested party in reducing the crazy deficit."

No, they aren't at all. They are interested in cutting programs they want to see cut while ignoring the biggest expenditures on the budget like the military.

"Obama was supposed to have it cut in half by now anyway."

How much did Bush lower it? How about Reagan?

"But it's much easier to play the blame game instead of finding real solutions."

Pot meet kettle. The blame game is a game the Republicans love to play. It's their go-to.

"False."

How?

"A spending problem is still a spending problem no matter if the congressional approval rating is on the high end or the low end."

It didn't seem to be a problem under Reagan or Bush 2.

"Republicans have proposed real solutions but Obama and the Dems have been resistant to reasonably consider those."

Democrats have also proposed real solutions but the John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and their WingNut constituency have been dead set on resisting anything and everything that the President and his party have proposed.

February 25, 2013 at 10:13 p.m.
joetheplumber said...

Cut everything 15% across the board and introduce a spending freeze for 3 years.

February 26, 2013 at 12:34 a.m.
BigRidgePatriot said...

The progressive screams declare the END OF TIMES if the federal government does not continue wild deficit spending. You guys sound quite a bit more silly than the people who predict a financial system collapse if we continue on our current path.

I am with joetheplumber. Slash everything and ride out the consequences. Calvin Coolidge cut the federal government 40%. Got that? FOURTY PERCENT, and ushered in an era of prosperity. The Statist lies about the need for government spending are no more credible than the crisis they have predicted over the sequester.

February 26, 2013 at 9:16 a.m.
nucanuck said...

BRP, there is no political will to cut spending meaningfully...by either party. I have often said that a law requiring taxes to cover ALL spending would bring the spending to a screeching halt. The taxes would be unbearable.

The choice before us now is whether we enter a period of austerity intentionally and with purpose or whether we continue on, waiting for systemic failure. I think that we all know that it will be the latter.

Jimmy Carter was the last politician to suggest national austerity...that was a career-ending move on his part.

February 26, 2013 at 9:39 a.m.
BigRidgePatriot said...

I don't let conventional "wisdom" and political "realities" restrain my understanding of what is right or appropriate for the times. If you limit yourself to what politicians and pundits tell you is practical you will only be able to consider options that have been dreamed up by dim witted bureaucrats and those who seek to control you.

Don't you ever find it limiting to let others do your thinking for you?

February 26, 2013 at 11:12 a.m.
BigRidgePatriot said...

And what is wrong with a one term president? Calvin Coolidge was a one term president. He accomplished more in 4 years than most who sat for 8. We need politicians that will put right and wrong in front of their next election.

February 26, 2013 at 11:15 a.m.
conservative said...

Talk, no action,on a balanced budget has been going on for more than the 25 years I've been listening.

All Demoncrats and most Republicans don't want it because greedy,selfish American citizens don't want it. They want to borrow and let their children suffer the consequences.

A balanced budget would get my vote but I am part of a small minority.

Be careful what you wish for because God just might let you have it to serve as your punishment.

February 26, 2013 at 1:36 p.m.
Easy123 said...

"All Demoncrats and most Republicans don't want it because greedy,selfish American citizens don't want it."

Fallacious, highly illogical, and patently false.

"They want to borrow and let their children suffer the consequences."

That entire statement is a myth. The national deficit has little to no effect on anyones children. The national debt isn't like a personal debt.

"Be careful what you wish for because God just might let you have it to serve as your punishment."

This "god" you speak of is a prick. But, what can you expect from a fictional character created in the mind of a delusional Bible-thumper?

February 26, 2013 at 4:42 p.m.
BigRidgePatriot said...

Easy123 said... "(They want to borrow and let their children suffer the consequences.) That entire statement is a myth. The national deficit has little to no effect on anyones children. The national debt isn't like a personal debt."*

This is how those educated by the government school system have been trained to respond. Fundamentals of economics do not apply, because, the wisest of man kind (politicans!) have figured out how to bend science and human psychology to finally create social nirvana!

Fools, all of you.

February 26, 2013 at 6:29 p.m.
Easy123 said...

BRP,

"This is how those educated by the government school system have been trained to respond."

That's strange. I attended private schools my entire life.

And it seems my statement is factual as well:

"As a country we cannot impose huge debt burdens on our children. It is impossible, at least if we are referring to government debt. The reason is simple: at one point we will all be dead. That means that the ownership of our debt will be passed on to our children. If we have some huge thousand trillion dollar debt that is owed to our children, then how have we imposed a burden on them? There is a distributional issue — Bill Gates’ children may own all the debt — but that is within generations, not between generations. As a group, our children’s well-being will be determined by the productivity of the economy (which Brooks complained about earlier), the state of the physical and social infrastructure and the environment."

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/28/debt-is-mostly-money-we-owe-to-ourselves/

"Fundamentals of economics do not apply, because, the wisest of man kind (politicans!) have figured out how to bend science and human psychology to finally create social nirvana!"

That isn't a part of the fundamentals of economics whatsoever. Science can't be bent, but many of your ilk try to deny it. Human psychology can't be bent either. Humans can be made to believe different things, etc. but human psychology is a concrete subject of study.

You seem to get off on this "social nirvana" stuff. You sound more psychotic with every post.

"Fools, all of you."

Get real. "Fool" wouldn't even come close to describing you. Your entire paradigm is defective.

February 26, 2013 at 8 p.m.
timbo said...

slEasy321...Reading your posts is like listening to a 3 year old speaking pig Latin. You have some bizarre views. The problem is that most of you liberal buddies have the same views.

You make absolutely no sense whatsoever. The "national debt is not like personal debt." Yea, it is only worse. Why? We can't print money and call it "quantitative easing" which causes inflation which is the result of debt.

You are amazingly ignorant.

February 27, 2013 at 11:46 a.m.
BigRidgePatriot said...

Darn, I responded to easy. Sometimes he says stuff that is so incredibly stupid that one just can't help themselves!

February 27, 2013 at 1 p.m.
Easy123 said...

timboner,

"Reading your posts is like listening to a 3 year old speaking pig Latin. You have some bizarre views. The problem is that most of you liberal buddies have the same views."

Prove them wrong.

"You make absolutely no sense whatsoever."

Are you illiterate or stupid?

"Yea, it is only worse."

No, it isn't.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/johntharvey/2012/01/05/krugman/

http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2013/01/14/why-public-debt-is-not-like-credit-card-debt/

http://www.rooseveltinstitute.org/new-roosevelt/federal-budget-not-household-budget-here-s-why

"You are amazingly ignorant."

No, sir. You have shown again and again that YOU are the ignorant one. You can't argue based on facts so you just try to attack me. I, on the other hand, argue based on facts, prove you're incorrect, thus, making you look ignorant.

It's a vicious cycle for you.

February 27, 2013 at 1:10 p.m.
Easy123 said...

BRP,

"Sometimes he says stuff that is so incredibly stupid that one just can't help themselves!"

Don't flatter yourself, moron.

I find it humorous that you try to attack me and go back to your bubble when you can't rebut what I'm saying,

http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m7ftk1pPtv1rzq655o1_1280.jpg

February 27, 2013 at 1:18 p.m.
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