I’m not a CPA, accountant or lawyer. I have no degree in political science or economics. I’m a high school grad with a couple years of college. I have no insider information on the inner workings of the federal government, but I’ve been challenged by several readers to be more specific in my column regarding sequestration and offer possible suggestions on how we go about easing the pain of reducing Uncle Sam’s spending by $85 billion.
We all know there isn’t one single dollar the government spends that someone doesn’t think is critically important. But to set the stage for what we are up against, I urge you go watch this simple dramatization of our nation’s current $16 trillion+ debt at demonocracy.info. We must reduce our spending.
Let me start by stating the obvious. I don’t know of one executive administrator who is responsible for managing anything who doesn’t want to control the checkbook and have some say in income generation. I can only come to one conclusion as to why the president isn’t coming forth with a plan. He wants nothing to do with leading the nation. His goal seems to be cuts must hurt, so make the cuts felt and then blame others for the pain. He also seems reluctant to put forth his own cost-saving solutions therefore avoiding any personal blame. This is the exact opposite of what a president should do. Harry Truman said it best: “The buck stops here.”
With the limited information available to me, here are my recommendations if I were in the Oval Office. As a sign of good faith and leadership, we start at the White House. The best estimates I can find tell me it costs about $1.7 billion to run the White House. I’d immediately direct the WH staff, including the presidency, to trim 10 percent from all salaries associated with WH personnel, curtail all extraneous travel, including Air Force One and cut our operational spending by the same amount. I urge Congress to do the same 10 percent cut, and together we can lead the nation to a $1 billion savings. Leadership starts with the leaders.
Next I’d turn to the nearly three million federal employees. We can either cut positions or we can all agree to take a 5 percent across-the-board pay deduction. It will save the American public about $10 billion, and everyone gets to keep their jobs. I’m suggesting another $1 billion saved from frugal efforts by cutting things like conference costs to office supplies and travel.
In 2010, the Simpson Bolwes National Commission to reform government brought forth a plan that was not acted upon. I would instruct the heads of our 22 civilian and military departments to look at those recommendations and surgically trim their expenditure, not to include any staff reductions, but to trim 2 percent from other expenses, which should save about $48 billion.
Over the years, we’ve repeatedly piled programs on top of pre-existing ones. We should begin today to identify these programs with an estimated goal of cutting $25 billion through the elimination of and merging of certain agencies.
We must put Social Security and Medicare at the top of our lists to ensure their sustainability while reducing costs.
Last year, more than two dozen Fortune 500 companies paid zero federal income tax, short changing the country by $20 billion. We must put an end to corporate welfare and preferential tax deals.
Every American over age 18 must have a financial stake in our country, and I would propose a minimum citizen tax of $250 or about $4.80 a week. For each person over 18 years of age, if you’ve paid nothing into the system, the government will deduct $250 from your refund (benefit) check. That will raise $28 billion.
With all Americans citizens and corporations now having a vested interest in our country, we can create a new culture to rein in costs and once again create a promising opportunity to the future generations.
Dan Alexander is associate publisher of New Market Press and publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.