To the Editor:
Joe Average represents a lot of people when he complains that politicians are fiscally irresponsible. Why
can’t they spend within their budget? After all, “It shouldn’t be that hard.”
There are two things the federal government can do to spend within its budget: increase income or
decrease expenses. Increasing income means raising taxes. We have shown repeatedly that we will not vote
for a politician who will raise taxes. We don’t like to pay taxes, even when they’re graduated so they
fall exclusively or most heavily on those who can afford them. Raising taxes doesn’t happen because we,
the people, won’t vote for politicians who would raise taxes.
That leaves cutting spending. This is popular, but what spending will we cut? We can’t cut defense even
though we spend more on defense than the next eight countries combined. Cutting defense would make the
world less safe. So we increase defense spending.
We can’t cut Social Security or Medicare, because we depend on them in later years and we’ve already paid
for them with our taxes. We don’t want to cut Medicaid, because poor people and the disabled can’t live
without it, and it would be inhumane. And we have to pay the interest on our existing debt.
Now we’re at 88% of the federal budget, and we haven’t cut anything.
We could cut the money that goes to state and local governments for police, firefighters, schools, roads,
airports, water and sewer systems. How about federal courts and prisons? We could cut funds for the
border patrol, but then we’d be overrun with illegal immigrants, who supposedly commit lots of crimes.
Or how about all that money we waste on medical research, which only lets us live longer? How about farm
subsidies and food stamps?
Cutting government spending seems easy in the abstract, but it’s really tough when you get to specifics.
We don’t cut spending because we like, want and need the things that government provides.
We’ve discovered that the least painful way to get the money for the services we need from government is
Is federal deficit spending a problem? You bet. But it isn’t our biggest problem yet. And it won’t be
solved until we, the voters, are willing to pay the real cost of the government services we receive, or
do without them. We’ve shown no indication that we’re willing to do either. But we sure do enjoy
Gary R. Lee