Wednesday, August 03, 2011

How to Budget Congress

It isn't the deficit, it's the debt. I keep hearing that. But in reality it's the first step in killing the debt. A deficit budget guarantees a higher debt. We must balance the budget and include debt reduction as part of the spending plan. Here is the short and sweet method of balancing your budget. It works for families, it works for business, and it will work for any government or government agency.

Forecast Revenue: Figure out how often you are going to stop and count your money. For most of us it is weekly or monthly. For a business it might be quarterly. For the Treasury it is annually. Using that as a base, take your best guess on how much cash you will have. Then subtract about five percent as a fudge factor.

Prioritize Line Items: List everything you are going to spend money on during the period you just forecast. Each item is "Need to spend", "Good to Spend", or "Nice to Spend". Simply put, "Need" means that bad things will happen if you don't fully fund that item and commit the cash. "Good" means that bad things could happen but it's just short of certain. "Nice" means you can postpone it without anything truly bad happening.

Revise Your Revenue: On the prescribed day, count the actual cash on hand.

Revise Line Items: For each item listed as "Need", skip to writing the checks. Total the cash remaining. Let's pretend you now have forty dollars. Will the forty dollars pay off the "Good" items? If it will, write the checks. Is there any left over? Let's say you have ten dollars remaining. Ten is 10% of the original $100. So, pay ten percent of each remaining line item. This way, nothing is totally left out. But, at the same time the truly important (in relation to the other items) stuff is fully funded.

Write Checks: I think we all know how to do that.

I'm not going to try to write the official procedure and the flowchart of tasks needed to accomplish this at the federal level. I also get that our elected neighbors will scream that every item they sponsor is a "need". That exact lack of integrity is what gets us to deficit spending in the first place. You and I must elect someone who can be honest and say that while it would be nice to provide Americorps, the world won't end if we don't. It's a hard call and will take enormous amounts of character and moral courage.

By now you may have noticed that I switched gears in a clumsy ham handed way. Politics is supposed to be the art of getting it done. It takes Statesmen and all we are seeing is the basic professional pol. From the Vice President and others that denigrate the Tea Party by calling them terrorists, to would-be Presidents that use words like "Tar baby" and "Boy" in just the right way to invite screams of racism no matter the intent; We face a deficit of Statesmen. Until we fix that, the debt will never be paid.

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