Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Debt Horizons

Our national government approves budgets year after year with huge deficits. It looks like the next few years will be no exception. Perhaps we should consider a proposal that deficit spending never be permitted without simultaneously proposing partial budgets 10 years into the future which show what programs will be cut or what revenues will be raised which will pay off the debt. There must be a plan to pay off all such debts within the ten year window.

Right now, there is no negative consequence for a congressman to support deficit spending other than the vague statement that they are "spending our grandchildren's inheritance." It is too easy to wave away such nebulous statements. They should be forced to say what, specifically, they are going to take away from the next generation to allow for the present largess.

Think of them as Debt Horizons. A distant point, but a visible one, where we know that the debts will be paid off, and how.


Scott Hinrichs said...

We once came up only one senate vote shy of proposing a constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget with very strict limitations on exceptions. It still would have required ratification by the states, so there's no guarantee that it would have passed.

One of the dissenters said that it was all symbolism and that the politicians would easily circumvent the legislation should it ever pass. Besides, some argued, it was unenforceable. I mean, what are you going to do, put Congress in jail? (Although that's not always a bad idea.)

Unfortunately, the same would be true of a debt horizon law. There would always be a good reason for not adhering to previous projections of what would be cut. We have new information or the new administration is not going to be beholden to the old administration's policies, or whatever.

Democrats hid behind a 'pay-go' provision for the past two years. The principle behind the provision was that no new spending could occur without tax increases or cutting other programs to 'pay for' it. They obviously didn't really mean it, as recent history shows. And, of course, they have no intention of holding Pres. Obama to this same standard.

The harsh reality is that it falls to the American people to put their collective foot down and say, "No more deficit spending." Um ... we're not going to do that (although, I wish we would). Consider how Americans handle their household finances.

Frank Staheli said...

This is one of the reasons I am re-considering supporting term limits for federal representatives. It ought to be a no-brainer that most of the filth from Utah should have been swept out of DC long ago, for just the one reason of deficit spending. But maybe we as a people aren't intelligent enough to do it by ourselves.