Editor's note: This piece was authored by Susan A. Carleson
The House Republican Study Committee (RSC) has proposed a federal budget that not only can America live with – it cannot live without it.
It is a serious plan with responsible measures for achieving fiscal sanity in an appropriate and reasonable time frame. The RSC budget will reach balance in just five years, as opposed to balancing the federal budget in 10 years at the earliest under Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s proposal.
This is not pie-in-the-sky thinking – our fine neighbor to the north, Canada, whose 1994 fiscal mess was on par with our current disaster, managed to get its budget in shape in just four years! President Obama’s budget – oh well, never mind.
Congress, which theoretically controls federal spending, operates on a two-year election cycle, and anyone who thinks that politicians (no matter how noble of mind and intention) will be able to resist the siren calls to bust any spending plan for five straight election cycles once campaign season begins has clearly not paid any attention whatsoever to how we've gotten ourselves in this mess over the last four decades.
Among other things, my dear father was a very good budgeter. His daughter didn't inherit his skills, but I'll never forget the most brilliant advice he gave me – a budget is not worth the paper it's written on if you don't follow it. And he was right – I proved it, often.
Washington has played a game with budgeting for decades, using incomprehensible definitions of "current spending" and other Three Card Monte tricks. From time to time, good men and women have attempted to bring honesty to the process. But, seriously, how realistic is it to design a budget that will depend on five successive Congresses to stick to the program?
In its recently released 2013 budget, the RSC puts the House Democrats in a bit of a box (Botox?) by cutting discretionary spending below the 2008 levels approved by the Nancy-Pelosi-led Congress. It also protects vital defense projects from sequestration and creates a simpler, flatter and fairer tax code through the Jobs Through Growth Act that the RSC budget incorporates. It’s very good timing on that one, as all of us who pay taxes are wrestling with getting our shoe boxes to our accountants before April 15th.