Baseline Budgeting: Why the Government Doesn’t Run Its Finances the Way You Do


So you budget. Let’s say you can afford a new monthly payment of $500 that you’re not paying now. You determine you can afford that, so you go out and you find a car that fits. And in the process you actually find a car you like that costs less. You find a car that you can get for $300 new a month instead of $500. What do you tell yourself? You just saved $200. But you didn’t. You’re actually spending $300 a month that you weren’t spending before you started the whole process of getting a new car. But because you told yourself that you were gonna spend $500, you found something you like for $300, that you’re actually saving $200. You’re not.

The only way you’d be saving $200 is if you actually made the deal for $500 a month, started spending it and then found a new deal that reduced that $500 to $300, but you’ve never spent it. Well, turn that around and that’s exactly how these clowns in Washington do their own spending. They’re allocated X amount every year to spend, and if they get less than that it’s still an increase. They tell themselves they just got a massive cut, when they didn’t.

Now, TARP’s another. TARP was a supposed one-time expenditure that was theoretically off-budget. And it was for bailing out banks in distress and number of other things. But it still ends up being added to the entire ledger. Whether it was supposedly off-budget or not, it’s still what was spent. And as such, it does, in a very trickinology sort of way, end up in the baseline, even though it’s off-budget and even though not all of it has been spent yet. And even at that, folks, remember what TARP was, if we didn’t do this in 24 hours, the world economy was gonna collapse. That was the nature of that crisis. This was August-September 2008, right before the election. If we don’t spend this money, if we don’t bail out these banks, if we don’t bail out these financial institutions, we’re gonna have a world collapse of the economic system.

Well, the Republicans initially opposed it. They didn’t agree to it for two weeks. So a crisis that we were told would manifest itself in 24 hours actually went through two weeks with no pain. Then the Republicans finally agreed to it. We needed $800 billion to stop a world financial collapse. We still haven’t spent $200 billion of it. Now, obviously there was no imminent world financial collapse. That’s just how we were frightened into supporting and agreeing with it. And that’s what they’re doing now with the sequester and that’s why I’m ashamed. I’m ashamed that leadership in this country has devolved to Neanderthal-type insults to everybody’s intelligence.

I’m ashamed that we cannot honestly and intelligently, from government to citizen, deal with things honestly and straightforwardly. That we have to create these phony contrived rivalries and crises. That we keep people in a perpetual state of fear and crisis, that leads to never-ending dependence. And we’re in the process of destroying the potential for greatness of the country, greatness upon individuals. We’re destroying people’s humanity, their integrity, their dignity, slowly but surely chipping away at all that. Makes me ashamed.

The greatest country in the history of humanity is devolving. This TARP really was the first of this endless series of crises. Maybe the budget battle of ’95, or the Bork hearings. I mean, you could go back and find a logical explanation for when this whole technique began, because it works.



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