Smoke and mirrors management seems to be the usual Washington way to address the need for reduced federal spending. GOP leaders in congress have begun well, proposing $100 billion in cuts, but with national debt over $14,000,000,000,000.00, that's not really enough, not by a long shot.
Last November, voters made it clear that the country is tired of spending-as-usual in DC and that they are watching legislators in DC carefully to see what they are doing to trim the fat. During the past week, the White House floated some of their proposed budget cuts, but since these cuts are accompanied by proposals for two times the amount in spending, it doesn't look as if the White House got the message.
Budget cuts to the FY12 federal budget do not curtail current FY11 budget shortfalls. Furthermore, neither the GOP, nor Dems, in congress have addressed sufficiently what they plan to do about the $787 billion from the 2009 stimulus that has been absorbed into the baseline of the federal budget. Until all traces of that bloated buffet of earmarks is eliminated, it's hard to claim that congress is serious about cutting spending.
Much of the responsibility for fiscal discipline and budget cuts remains with the Office of Management and Budget. OMB's responsibility is to assist federal agencies prepare the comprehensive budget that the President submits, each year, to Congress. But, many agency heads are inexperienced with developing budgets. Many have no understanding of their agency's budget until the congressional budget-hearing briefing book is handed to them with the White House approved talking points.
Our nation's current budget development system is one of "incremental" budgeting. Agencies only document the need for increases over the previous year's budget, in a process that assumes that Congressional approval of a previous year's funding is sufficient justification to form the base funding of the upcoming year. There is little consideration of whether the funding was judiciously spent or if the program was successful.
The current format of the federal budget tends to be filled with projects--both old and new--siphoned from wish lists of federal, state and local officials, as well as the wish lists from well-positioned lobbying groups. Most dangerous of all, our current budgetary system does not account easily for one-time expenditures. As a result, today's benefit often becomes tomorrow's entitlement.
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