David Levine: An American tradition
Of the few things in life that are certain, one is that the budget sent by a Democratic president to a Republican Congress is dead on arrival. It has become an American tradition. Especially in the current political climate, where Obama has managed to build more ill will on Capitol Hill than anyone inrecent memory, the likelihood that the Republicans will summarily bin his latest spending requests is much closer to none than slim. We have all seen this movie before.
Yet we are watching it again. And not for the last time, for the very simple reason that our federal government has completely lost its way, expanding incessantly, and believing itself entitled to recklessly spend the hard earned money of the people it represents.
In the real world, when a businessman makes a spending decision, he does so with thoughts of return on investment. He needs to expend his resources in order to run and grow his business, but his goal is making money. Spending is necessary only as long as it generates results. Sometimes he will incur debt or accept a short term deficit. But at some point, he needs to see value for what he spends. If he cannot turn a profit, his children do not get dinner. It’s actually quite simple. When an employee turns out to be useless, he gets fired. When an advertising campaign proves ineffective, it is done away with.
In the topsy-turvyworld of government, the focus is always on spending money. The complete disregard for return on investment is mind-boggling. If the President of the United States is unable to cogently justify how he spent the last half trillion dollars of which Congress put him in charge, he should not be entitled to repeat the process. And if the Republican controlled Congress wants to appear levelheaded and well-intentioned rather than petty and obstructionist, all it needs to do is call Obama’s bluff. If, as word on the street is correct, he wants to increase spending by about fifty billion dollars, Congress should simply ask that he find fifty billion dollars to cut somewhere else, and grant him his wish.
Of course, going through how each of the 3.9 trillion dollars the president asked for last year could take a while, so let’s focus on one, small, fifty billion dollar segment where our executive branch of government has shined in its ineffectiveness, where there has been absolutely no return on investment – the Department of State. Why not board it up for next fiscal year or turn it into a museum?
Is there anyone who has kept track of how many times John Kerry has traveled to the Middle East and at what cost? He does not exactly travel alone. In addition to an army of security, he always takes a team of undersecretaries and their assistants and under-assistants and assistant undersecretaries and so forth. And they are neither flying coach nor buying their tickets on Priceline. And what has the American taxpayer received for funding these high profile adventures? Has Kerry achieved anything? Anywhere? The Israel –Palestine two state solution will always be nothing more than a pipe dream, Iraq remains on the brink, Yemen is in a state of anarchy, Syria is a failed state that is now a practice battleground for radicals, Egypt is ruled by a dictator who collects a billion dollars of American aid annually, and negotiations with Iran about their nuclear program will undoubtedly continue to stall.
And has anything been accomplished elsewhere? Is Putin any more predisposed to us? Are the Islamists retreating in Nigeria? Did the State Department do anything useful or productive with thefifty billion dollars it got last year? These questions of course will be neither asked nor answered. Obama will never apologize for choosing such a thoroughly feckless man to spearhead our foreign affairs, the State Department will get its funding, Kerry and his brood of buffoons will continue to rack up miles while accomplishing nothing, and American hegemony will continue to diminish. The shame of it is that this should not cost us fifty billion dollars. At the very least, we should be able to watch the world blow itself up at no charge, and leave this money in the care of the American taxpayer to save, spend or fritter as he sees fit.
So sit back on the sofa, get a tub of popcorn and a fountain soda, and get ready to watch the annual federal film fest where the President fights with Congress as to how best squander American capital. It may not be as much fun as fireworks on the Fourth of July, but at least it’s a tradition.
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