Friday, October 01, 2010

Would You Like A Receipt With That?

Andrew Sullivan with a frightfully good idea: give each taxpayer a reciept, showing the amount of their Federal taxes that go towards various programs.


  1. A good start. Now if they would also show government worker salaries and pensions, and we can then see the vast waste in this aspect. It`s the golden rule: those who make the rules get the gold.

  2. Yes! Yes! Yes!

    And each state and town/city should do the same (for all government revenue including tolls and fees).

  3. DM- That is, indeed, the Golden Rule. Did you notice, though? Where's the Waste, Fraud, and Abuse in that list? Of the top ten items, are there a lot of government employees pulling down huge salaries there? By my count, the first item on this list that you have any realistic chance of cutting in 2010, getting through Congress and signed into law, is National Parks.

    This is a constant refrain I keep hearing-cut waste, fraud and abuse. Yes. Fine.

    Then what? That's not enough to close the deficit.

    If you're not talking about cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan, then you're not really serious about balancing the budget.

  4. Michael: The overpaid government employee problem is scattered through that list as a part of most of the items. That is why it would be great to have that listed in a "receipt", as it is always hidden in everything else.

    I mean, come on, why do multi-millionaire candidates who win the Presidency really need to pocket millions of dollars in mad-money for the job? Do you seriously think that Bush and Obama would not have campaigned hard for the office if there were some sort of rule against wasting Presidential salary money on the already rich? And that is just one of many examples.

    Without even straying from the White House, that's one place where the rich get richer: the number of over $100K salaries has been soaring under Obama. He famously issued a wage hike freeze for White House staff, but as he often is, he was deceptive: he ecempted the highest-paid people from the freeze.

    Pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan? Well, that is only $100 billion per year on average, and it would be unwise to do so until the remaining terrorists are defeated. I'm serious about balancing the budget, but not by surrendering to the terrorists.

    Why not look instead at the bailouts, which have cost a lot more?

  5. Well, because the bailouts are mostly over, and they worked.

    I don't know if (for example) the Secretary of the Treasury is overpaid or not.

    Check out this site here:

    It's another site that generates a tax "receipt", with a couple of more items. (I don't know how the numbers are generated, so YMMV.) If we assume, for the moment, that this person has the numbers right, out of a $20,000 Federal tax bill, $38.00 goes to the operations of Congress. Boy, that's some savings.

    If there are overpaid government employees, then that should be remedied. (I know when I worked for the VA, I took a 30% pay cut.) But I continue to contend that it is a drop in the bucket compared to the items at the top of the list. You can make all the cuts you want in salaries and "waste, fraud, and abuse" and it won't make a bit of difference in the deficit.

    You have to deal with the big kahunas- Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Defense-to get a handle on it. And you have to cut these EVEN MORE if you want to cut taxes.

    As Sullivan repeatedly says, and I am beginning to agree with him, I don't trust the Democrats on this either. But talking about high on the hog bureaucrats and wasteful sinecures for brothers in law and Bridges To Nowhere? Those are rounding errors, Federally speaking.

    They are problems, and should be dealt with. But it doesn't come close to tackling the real problem.

  6. "Well, because the bailouts are mostly over, and they worked. "

    Yes, they worked well at being the biggest corporate welfare project in history, while ignoring the economy for the rest of us.

    Well, the rest of us were affected. I know of a local pizza joint that was put out of business when one of those pork-barrel stimulus projects blocked the driveway.

    No quotes needed around waste, fraud and abuse

    "ou can make all the cuts you want in salaries and "waste, fraud, and abuse" and it won't make a bit of difference in the deficit."

    I do know more about it at the state level. In Michigan, for example, a minor adjustment in state employee pensions would save a billion dollars and erase the budget problems. But greedy special interests have blocked such reform, even when pushed Democrats. This would make a huge difference in other states such as Illinois and California.

    As for Social Security, why not means test it? If the money is not going to the poor, it is welfare for the middle class and wealthy. any idea how much would be saved by this?

  7. I was talking federally, of course- I am sure you are right at the state level.

    I think, in typical fashion, as a society, we have made promises we could not afford to keep. Just like GM did with its retirees, the government has to say, "Yes, we know we promised you this. But times have changed. Everybody has to give up a little bit. If you insist on getting what you were promised, you're going to bankrupt the country, and you'll get nothing. That's not fair to anybody. So you have to give up a little bit, in exchange for which the whole system will keep running."

    I think the upshot of the whole thing is the sacrosanct programs, the programs no one would dream of cutting, are where most of the money goes, are right at the top of this list. The ones everyone complains about as being wasteful and inefficient? They're at the bottom.

    We have to cut everywhere-including at the top-and the very people marching in the streets about wasteful spending are going to have to sacrifice, too.


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