As I write this (2020) the estimated Federal deficit for the year is about $1 trillion. To give you some perspective, you could have started at the Birth of Christ, spent One Hundred Thousand dollars a day from that day until this, and you still would have spent only about 3/4 of a trillion.
And whenever anyone talks about “cuts” it’s almost never actual cuts but reduction in an expected rate of increase. And the cost of government keeps spiraling up and up and up. Did I say spiraling? No. I misspoke. They’re going straight up.
But if we cut anything, police and firefighters will be out of work, schools will shut down for a lack of teachers. Doom will be upon us!
In that vein, perhaps, might I make a modest proposal. We lived through previous years without facing doom. It might not be as comfortable as we would like, but perhaps we could live with, say, the Federal Government size and scope of, say 2004. I mean, 2004 and “fighting two unfunded wars” (we paid for them, the claim was that we didn’t raise taxes enough to cover them). And that was with the “Bush Tax Cuts”. So, surely we could live within not even the budget but the amount we spent that year:
$2.23 trillion dollars.
Oh, sure, prices have gone up since then. $2.23 trillion doesn’t buy today what it did then. Fair enough. So let’s allow for inflation. That’s 36.56 percent. So, with an inflation adjustment that comes to:
$3.05 trillion dollars
But wait, somebody is sure to complain, our population has increased. We’re going to have to spend more on things like police, fire, and education, as well as all the other “services” government provides because there are simply more people needing those services.
Again, fair enough. Now, not everything government does (whether it should or not is a different matter, but suffice to say that it does) scales with population. The size of our military, our coast guard and border patrol, agriculture department, and so on don’t really scale with the size of the population. But let’s ignore that. Let’s just say that government expenditure has to go up proportionally with population. The US population at the end of 2004 was 293 million. By the end of 2020 it’s estimated to be 331 million. That’s a 13% increase. So, let’s increase that budget by another 13% and we’re at.
$3.44 trillion dollars.
That’s a lot of money. However, the estimate of government revenue (and that’s with Trump’s tax cuts) for 2020 is:
$3.71 trillion dollars.
Oh, look at that. Revenue is projected to be higher than expenditures. That means we can put $265 billion toward reducing the accumulated national debt.
So, if we simply rolled back Federal expenditures to what they were in 2004, adjusted for inflation and population, we would not only balance the budget but begin to pay down the debt.
Okay, maybe it wouldn’t be everything everyone would like, but surely, surely we would survive it. After all, we survived it before. What we have done, we can do, right? I mean, we’re certainly no less capable of surviving than we were 16 years ago.
And because not all things scale with population we’d even have some extra money to pay for some other “nice things” my friends on the Left would like to have.
And that’s my Modest Proposal.