Examiner Editorial: Government’s spending binge must be stopped

Aside from Islamic terrorists, the greatest threat to America’s future can be found right here in the nation’s capital: professional politicians in both major parties who are spending the country into bankruptcy. No individual or family can chronically spend more than they earn, going ever deeper into debt, without eventually having to face financial reality. With President Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress having run up more than $3.6 trillion in deficit spending in just two years, Washington has reached the moment of truth.

The federal government must realign its spending priorities because, as The Heritage Foundation recently said, “Washington taxes families, subtracts a hefty administrative cost, and sends the remaining revenues back to state and local governments with specific rules dictating how they may and may not spend the money. Instead of performing many functions poorly, Congress should focus on performing a few functions well. Most highway, education, justice, and economic development programs should be devolved to state and local governments.”

The following are The Examiner’s recommended starting points for that realignment:

* First, freeze total federal expenditures and employment at 2008 levels. Second, create a Spending Realignment and Closure (SPRAC) commission to do for the federal budget what was done in the 1980s by the immensely successful Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) panel in closing unneeded military facilities. Implementation of SPRAC recommendations should start in 2013.

Several other steps are vital for the long-term fiscal health of the nation:

* To prevent professional politicians from ever repeating the out-of-control government spending by both political parties seen in the past decade, Congress should approve and send to the states a constitutional amendment to require a balanced annual federal budget, a congressional super-majority for all future tax hikes, a line-item veto for the president, and term limits for senators and representatives.

* Federal employee compensation, including salaries and benefits, is 30 to 40 percent greater than that typically paid to private-sector workers in comparable jobs. Congress should act quickly to get federal compensation in line with market rates.
n Congress should reassert its constitutional prerogatives as the first branch of government by aggressively overseeing how federal departments and agencies spend tax dollars, and by demanding measurable progress toward clearly defined goals for all federal programs. Measures should be taken to prevent federal funding of any tax-exempt organization that lobbies Congress.

This year, the federal government will spend $30,543 for every American household, compared to $21,875 in 2000. That represents a 79 percent increase in discretionary spending in a decade. The new Congress must restore fiscal sanity without delay.

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