Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Don't believe a word

You have to be really careful when listening to legislators. Our congressmen have torn the President a new one for this year's budget proposal. Of course, our local reporters only go so far as tell you what they said, but they don't look at the facts. Before I share information with you, you ought to check out how the federal budget process works. You should also visit www.expectmore.gov from the OMB (Office of Management and Budget).

The president's budget, now that you have read a little, is merely a proposal of how he thinks the money should be spent for the coming year. The process is similar in the State of Texas. Congress is actually in charge of making the budget using the President's proposal as a guide. If our Congressmen are so opposed to the budget, they have to power to change it.

The particularly nonsensical allegations are that the President is cutting Medicare. Medicare will actually see an increase in spending. All that is being cut is the rate of growth of Medicare. This is like your wife with $60 budget telling you she bought a $100 dress for only $80. She saved you money because she would have spent more if it weren't on sale. Same with Medicare, they will spend more for Fiscal Year 2007 than in Fiscal year 2006, but it won't be as much as they (these Congressmen) would have wanted.

The reason given by the OMB for reducing the rate of growth is in preparation for the upcoming baby boom bomb I have stated will hit in 2012. The Federal government is running out of time to prepare for that. If you think our federal deficit, less than 4% of GDP, is a big deal, wait until 40 million Americans start drawing their monthly social security and medicare benefits. Low-balling it, say that each retiree draws only $1,000 per month in benefits. Multiply that times 40 million and you get $40,000,000,000 each month. That's $40 billion! In one year, that's $480,000,000,000. Of course, I low-balled the estimate. Although people earning minimum wage all their lives, and they exist, could expect to get about $1000/month, most people will get more plus what they draw from 401k, SEP, IRA, Keogh, and other retirement plans. Congressmen, like the ones noted in the article want to pretend that we can continue spending all willy nilly on social programs like money's no object. The reduction in the rate of growth went from 7.8% to 7.5%, hardly a reduction. In today's market, you are fortunate to have a guaranteed 6% return on an investment.

Another way they want to pull the wool over your eyes is with respect to disaster relief. Congress already allocated money to that in FY 2006. Katrina is not an ongoing disaster. If the current money allocated runs out, Congress can always throw something together and allocate more money. The main point is, they took care of it already this year. It's not a 10 year disaster.

The programs that are going to be cut can be found on the Expect More website mentioned above. These programs are not really doing what they set out to do or duplicate efforts by other programs. Why keep the programs running if they don't work? Another thing they don't tell you is that last year, OMB recommended 154 programs be cut. Congress only cut 89, leaving 54 programs that don't work still running. So you see, what the President wants and what he gets are two very different things. This year, they recommend axing 141 programs, which include the 54 from last year. Of course, the people working in the programs don't want them cut, they'll have to look for another pointless job.

As for the war, it's in the budget. They are sticking to this year's budget. There is base spending of $410 billion which we would pay with or without a war. In addition, there is $50 billion going towards the war effort. The $50 billion Congress gave the President for '06 will not increase for '07 (unless Congress changes it). Congress also adopted $18 billion for reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan 2 years ago, which is still being spent. If there is any unexpected spending for the war, Congress has the power to provide supplemental spending... or not.

I don't want to entirely blame the Congressmen for their deceptions, after all, they believe George W. Bush is the anti-christ. I do blame reporters for being lazy and not looking into the facts. It took me a total of 2 minutes to search for the information presented to you. It's taking me longer to write about it. Always remember, when you read something, always look at who is writing about it and try to figure out their agenda. Also, you must look for alternative sources of information. A little skepticism is good. As a great man once said, "trust, but verify".
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