Rais­ing the Debt Ceil­ing & Hur­ri­cane Irma

The Jewish Voice - - EDITORIAL -

Dear Ed­i­tor:

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

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