Tuesday, March 8, 2011

More on the Budget

As the sunrise is coming earlier now, I am starting to see glimpses of it as I finish my weekday route. The last few days I was witness to a slight dawning of the light over a scenic view of Lenape park as I drove down Oak Street in preparation of making a left towards the library. Unfortunately, I will only be privy to this until Saturday as Daylight Savings Time begins Sunday morning and I will be thrust back into the dark for my weekday route for another few months.

I have spent some time reviewing various breakdowns (with accompanying opinions) of the proposed 2011 federal budget. The numbers are staggering but in a nutshell, there is about $2.5 trillion dollars expected in revenue with $3.8 trillion estimated for expenses. Quite a discrepancy!!

From what I can gather, slightly more than half of the revenue comes from income taxes, individual and corporate. Just under half comes from social security and other payroll taxes and the slight remainder (about $200 billion, or approx, 8%)comes from a small group of other sources.

Output is divided into discretionary (about 37%) and mandatory spending (the remaining 63%). In raw numbers, mandatory spending is $2.4 trillion. This means that we could have a budget surplus of about $100 billion if we only spent the money we had to and nothing else.

Unfortunately, the categories on the discretionary side of the ledger include the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, Justice, State, Transportation, Treasury and Veterans Affairs, just to name a few. And, of course, the Department of Defense.

Clearly, the mandatory spending side of the issue needs to be addressed, and that includes Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid which account for $1.5 trillion. Until we see our elected representatives begin discussing these programs, all this "serious" talk about cutting funding for items like Planned Parenthood or the Corporation of Public Broadcasting is purely political bombast.

Think of it this way. Examination of your personal monthly budget reveals that after you pay your $1000 mortgage and $200 in utility bills, you have $60 left to eat and clothe yourself and family.

Serious problems need serious discussions. Too bad we aren't getting any, and shame on us for not demanding them.

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