Raising the Debt Ceiling & Hurricane Irma
There are always two sides to every story concerning President Trump and Congress agreeing to raise the debt ceiling as a method to fund $15 billion in Hurricane Harvey & Irma relief and to keep the federal government open until December 15th. President Trump and Congress, on a bipartisan basis, are in denial by not acknowledging the relationship between funding the relief effort and the ongoing financial budget crises.
Everyone agrees that there is justification for appropriating a down payment of $8 billion toward Hurricane Harvey relief effort. It was a question of finding $8 billion within a $3.7 trillion dollar budget. It has been a 100 year tradition to authorize and appropriate emergency funding under extraordinary circumstances without looking for set asides from existing funding to pay for it.
Both President Trump and Congress continue to ignore our national debt, which is now $20 trillion. This averages $61,325 per citizen or $165,805 per taxpayer. (Source: National Debt Clock). Our legal debt limit of $20 trillion will officially run out at the end of September, due to our excessive current rate of spending.
There are thousands of employees who are familiar with the details of our federal budget. How difficult can it be to find $8 billion in savings? This represents a fraction of 1% in the overall 3.7 trillion dollar budget which could have provided funding today without raising the debt ceiling.
Millions of Americans cut far more out of their household budgets monthly to make ends meet. Our national unemployment rate still averages 5%. This does not count the 5% more who have given up looking and the millions more who are working part time. Many working at minimum wage or slightly above or part time desire a better paying full time job. There is clearly less disposable income for residents of Nassau County and other neighbors to spend. Many former two incomes households have to live on one pay check. Some face both wage earners out of work. Don't forget those who have exhausted their unemployment insurance and savings. All of the above has resulted in far tighter family budgets.
This translates to eating out less frequently or dining at less expensive restaurants. Repairing and making due with existing clothing, appliances, furniture, household items and automobiles rather than buying new has become a regular part of life. People are postponing major house renovations such as painting, siding, roof shingles, bathroom and other major upgrades. People are foregoing nonessential pampering. This has a ripple effect, as people who provide these services have less work. Isn't it time for Washington to live within its available existing revenues without excessive borrowing, just like millions of ordinary citizens?.
The President and Congress have forgotten the old saying - a penny saved is a penny earned. Perhaps Americans should send both a penny to remind them that it is not a sin to save.
There was a time when Congress held budget hearings for each department during the Summer. A real balanced budget was adopted during an open process. The public, watchdog groups and media were afforded sufficient time to understand the full contents prior to adoption. Full federal budgets were adopted on time prior to the start of any new Federal Fiscal year on October 1.
We need new incentives for the President and Congress to do their jobs on time. Let us propose we dock them a day's pay for each day a complete balanced budget for Federal Fiscal Year 2018 is not adopted by September 30th. The results will be different when any delay comes out of their pockets instead of taxpayers.
Sincerely, Larry Penner