Guest Submission by Gene Brown
Consider the government agency or department that you think is the most useless, is the most overbearing, and is the one you would most like to get rid of.
Now that you are irritated, understand that not only will that agency be around next year, but it will get a 7.5% increase in funding, and 7.5% more the year after that, and every succeeding year.
This insane formula is not a result of the newest debt ceiling debacle; it is a result of The Congressional Budget and Impound Control Act of 1974. It is an accounting gimmick called “baseline budgeting.”
The elected representatives of the 1974 Congress decided that every facet of government was so important that Congressmen and Senators didn’t need to haggle about continuing these agencies or even how to fund them. So, Congress wrote a law ensuring that every government organ would grow every year without Congress having to trouble or soil itself. The increases are automatic, like congressional salaries.
Consider your family or business budget. Can you guarantee that next year you will have an increase of 7.5%, and can you start spending that money today? I would wager that most Americans are crossing their fingers, hoping that they will earn what they earned last year, or at least hoping they won’t go backward too far.
Consider human nature, if you could guarantee those increases every year, do you think that there would be some frivolous spending, and do you think you would do everything in your power to keep those increases coming?
Citizens against Government Waste remind us:
“In reality, baseline budgeting is one of the most sinister ways that politicians claim to cut spending when they are actually increasing spending.”
Baseline budgeting has changed the English Language. If an agency’s budget is only increased by 5%, liberals and bureaucrats will run to the closest television camera and scream that their particular empire has been cut by 2.5%. They will use adjectives like ruthless, austere, severe, and draconian.
Elite Republicans will quiver when they try to explain that they are only “reducing the rate of growth.”
Conservatives will throw up their hands, pull out their hair, and growl, “There are no cuts; but there need to be!”
Baseline budgeting is ominous and is a major reason our beloved nation is hurtling toward bankruptcy. Once more from Citizens against Government Waste:
“Baseline budgeting tilts the budget process in favor of increased spending and taxes.”
You and I need to question those folks wanting to represent us. We need to know where they stand on baseline budgeting. More importantly, we may need to change their minds or change their career paths.
Baseline budgeting has never been a good accounting idea; it was born out of laziness and irresponsibility. It was enacted by politicians who either did not care about the harm they were causing, or who were imbeciles.
Congress can change this accounting method if we encourage them. If not, next year the agency you have been thinking about will be 7.5% more odious and loathsome.
That’s my nickle.