Make America solvent again

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Municipalities and school districts begin their fiscal years on July 1 and will generally, at least in Iowa, have positive balances going into the new fiscal year.

State laws and traditions of fiscal responsibility require local entities not to spend more than their revenue, generated either through taxation or through bonding for needed infrastructure projects.

This is not true for our federal government. Federal budgets have rarely been balanced over the last several decades and the fault lies on both sides of the great political divide.

Liberals who clamor for more entitlement programs, the kinds that exist in most other industrialized nations, must acknowledge that it is not just the wealthy who foot the bill for such entitlements but middle class citizens in those countries are also heavily taxed to pay for government programs.

At one time, a government operating within its means was a defining element of conservatism, but in recent years balancing a budget is down the list of priorities among most who call themselves conservatives. America’s military spending dwarfs that of any other nation, yet conservatives want an even better armed and more aggressive military. Mandatory minimum sentencing has created a burdensome and ineffective incarceration rate that is the highest in the world.

The mandatory sentencing laws were implemented during the Clinton administration, part of Clinton’s strategy to appeal to “conservative” values by being tough on crime, of course focusing on inner city crack smokers rather than the coke snorters from suburbia.

During the George W. Bush administration, a counterproductive war was put on the national credit card while tax cuts were implemented. The tax cuts were assumed to be an economic stimulator, but at the end of the Bush administration, we were in deep recession. The rhetoric of tax cuts as economic stimulus has returned because despite its past failure, it just seems like it should work.

Federal officials should take a lesson from local officials.