Fairness in Budgeting
By Diane Randall on 04/19/2011 @ 03:00 PM
"That's not fair."
It's a refrain we hear from children on playgrounds or from squabbling siblings or even from elected officials. If you ask children to make choices that are 'fair'--like how to divide a candy bar or a pie, they can usually figure out a practical way to choose.
So, it was a little ironic to hear the budget ballyhooing in Washington the past few weeks as the president called for "adult discussions" on the current federal budget and over our spending priorities for the next fiscal year.
I was hoping for a fair budget proposal from Rep. Paul Ryan whose deficit reduction plan passed the US House of Representatives last Friday. I figured the reality of closing the budget deficit would force a practical framework that balanced revenue and expenditures, that would propose measures to curtail growth of entitlement programs and the military budget.
What we got instead was decidedly not fair. Any child could look at the budget pie and see the lopsided division. Not only did Rep. Ryan's proposal fail to adequately address the revenue side, it gave the Pentagon a continuing carte blanche in spending. Spending that has grown faster in the past ten years than any other category of how we use our tax dollars.
It's almost shocking to consider that many experts consider a trillion dollar cut to the Pentagon's budget possible without affecting our national security. And yet Congressional leadership has virtually avoided any mention of meaningful defense expenditure reductions as way to fairly contend with our growing deficit.
For the sake of our children, our grandchildren, let's do have a serious discussion and fair action on cutting the deficit. But as Our Nation's Checkbook advises, let's pay attention to ALL sides of the equation--our revenue and expenses--and make decisions guided by fairness.