I have written on this blog about how Republican candidates were loath to comment during their campaigns as to how they will reduce the federal deficit and debt. In order to survive their campaigns they had to say “reduce taxes” and “cut spending” in very generic terms. It is time now to administer the tough medicine required to get our country back on track.
I must say at the outset of this editorial that I am not unsympathetic to the effects the action plan below will have on many families. I just know that among the options available to us, this is in the long run the least painful of all, though it will taste terrible going down.
Our government, led by some gutsy Republicans like Paul Ryan and some outside-the-box thinking by people like Senator Rand Paul, should do the following:
1. Immediately impose a hiring freeze on the Federal government. No new employees unless they replace existing ones for the next 3 years.
2. Implement a 10% employee cut through attrition, early retirement plans, and layoffs if necessary (excluding the military).
3. Reduce Federal employee salaries by 10% effective January 1 and freeze all pay increases for the next 2 years (Did you know that the average government employee earns $120,000, and the average private sector employee/taxpayer earns $62,000?). (excluding the military).
4. Implement a new pension plan that shifts the burden for funding Federal employee retirement plans from the taxpayer to the employee. Do this phased in over time in a way that is fair to those who have retired or are near retirement. This will be the subject of its own post sometime soon given its importance.
5. Ban all earmarks effective January 1.
6. Reduce defense spending by 10% by finding weapons systems and “pet projects” which do nothing to strengthen our defense, but which merely provide political benefit and “make-work” employment. Under no circumstances should our fighting force be cut.
7. Begin hearings on the Obama/Pelosi healthcare plan and, rather than kill it, amend it in ways that reduce the $1 trillion cost of this program.
8. Implement information technology solutions to increase efficiency, reduce labor costs, and eliminate fraud. See this article in Information Week for one view of a plan to do so with estimated savings of $1 trillion: http://www.informationweek.com/news/government/enterprise-architecture/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=227700214
9. Reclaim all unspent stimulus money and put it back in government coffers.
10. Change the deal made with GM that allows them to operate at a profit for the next several years without ANY Federal taxes due. This was a gift to the UAW and to a favored auto company (imagine being Honda and having to compete with this? This is NOT free enterprise).
These are the top 10, but there are more. Some of these propositions sound very painful, but they are no different, and in fact in several cases are much milder, than what the private sector has been going through. Somehow we have gotten into the mindset that it is unfortunate but fair and right to implement cuts like these in the private sector, but that it is not fair or right in the government sector. We MUST end this mindset and align the way we manage economic and financial issues in the private sector the with the way we manage the public sector. After all, it’s the private sector and our citizens that FUND the government, and we must be equally prudent or even more prudent with government spending.
The Republicans should put this plan on paper and into an Excel spreadsheet and see what they generate in savings. Once we have done so with the 8 steps above we can then look at taxes and what is and isn’t required in that area.