Terry Paulson

Have you ever wondered how President Obama's budget can be unanimously defeated by both the House (414-0) and the Senate (97-0) and how the U.S. Senate can go three years without submitting or passing a single budget and yet government spending keeps exploding and the federal debt keeps growing? How can Rep. Paul Ryan's House budget be "radical," "social Darwinism" when it actually increases both government spending and our debt?

Since 1974, our spending nightmare has been fueled by a process that sounds responsible--baseline budgeting. It's a political ruse that victimizes taxpayers and gives Congressional free-spenders a way of never having to even pass a budget. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) uses the "current services baseline" and automatically increases the budgets of existing federal agencies every year even if Congress and the Senate do nothing. Then politicians can campaign on "cuts" when all they're risking is increasing spending at a somewhat smaller rate.

Before 1974, every President would submit his budget to set the course for national spending. Congress would work to increase funds for their priorities. President Nixon would counter by impounding or withholding some funds from agencies he didn't support. With a Watergate-weakened Nixon, Congress responded by passing the Congressional Budget Act of 1974.

The bill prohibited presidential impounding and created the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to prepare projections of federal spending "based on the continuation of the existing level of government services." In 1985, the Deficit Control Act ensured that spending would be adjusted to keep pace with inflation. Now, with every item in the budget increasing between 3 to 10 percent every year, to get more money, agencies just keep spending. When new budget programs are created, they become part of the baseline resulting in more money next year without any formal action by Congress.

As our federal debt races toward $16 trillion, note that the federal debt has breached 100 percent of GDP only twice since 1900--during World War II and every year since 2008. With baseline budgeting, excessive government spending is locked in.

Terry Paulson

Terry Paulson, PhD is a psychologist, award-winning professional speaker, author of The Optimism Advantage: 50 Simple Truths to Transform Your Attitudes and Actions into Results, and long-time columnist for the Ventura County Star.

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