It is well known that the Federal Government is running a substantial budget deficit. The numbers are huge by any rational standard.
Under normal circumstances, a deficit is something to avoid. The propensity to overspend may satisfy the immediate need for whatever the money goes to, but it must eventually be paid. Also in paying, the budget must forgo doing things that must be done in the future.
Judicious use of the public funds must prevail. Not only overspending based on moneys available, but overspending when government functions and services do not require it.
I believe a bottom to top and top to bottom review of the Federal Government must be initiated to remove bloat from the budget, kill unnecessary programs, and improve efficiency.
All of these things are in the public interest and really must be done, not in periodic or sporadic fashion, but continuously. Good stewardship of public funds is obligatory. No funding for unnecessary programs! Waste as little as possible! Return what funding is not used!
Instead of the institutional tendency of 'spend it all' to justify a bigger budget next year, a realistic approach of determining the amount needed for each organizational budget, then working, NOT to spend it ALL, but to use as little as necessary to complete the mission and return the unused portion at the end of the year. Rewarding managers and workers for saving money and resources should become the order of the day, not rewarding managers with bigger budgets and more power because they spent every dime from the previous year.
The need to alter the prevailing culture of waste is overwhelming and is best confronted at the attitude level. To begin, periodic mandatory training emphasizing the need for good stewardship of government moneys must be instituted for government workers and elected officials at all levels of the Federal government.
These measures will help, but they do not cure the patient. I propose a Constitutional Amendment that requires a balanced budget in all times but war or threat of war or natural disaster. Additionally the budget must make provisions for buy down of the public debt at a reasonable rate when not in wartime.
The exact wording of such an amendment should satisfy these elements:
1. Under normal circumstances the Federal budget must be self sufficient with public debt reduction taken into account. The two ways of doing this are raising taxes and reducing government services and functions to cost less than monies received in taxes.
2. Exceptions to the rule of self sufficiency must be accounted for in order to prevent the government from shutting down in the event the budget is exceeded. Methods to control these sorts of unforeseen costs and a schedule to pay down the incurred debt should be outlined in public law.
3. Programs must be put into place for training people in government regarding good budgetary practice and rewarding people for achieving cost savings while maintaining government services.
The time to address this issue is now, not in a year or five years or after retirement.