Joel Watts on Topic Two: Reshaping the Budget

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Link to question #2.

Reshaping must always start with the philosophy of the budget. What is the budget’s use? I would not consider the budget the economic structuring document, free of morality or agendas we’ve come to expect from such a cold rehearsal of the facts. The first thing I would want to see done is to reshape the approach to the budget. I would rather see it drafted several years in advance. While I am not in favor of the necessary allusions to Stalin, a five-year budget, addressing the specifics should be mandatory. In other words, draft budgets that are meant to hang over into subsequent presidential terms.

What are the specifics? I would say that tax rates will be set at relatively high levels, acting as a counterweight to an ineffectual Congress. Thus, to alleviate such an exhaustive tax rate, Congress will have to act to set not just spending but so too revenue. This would require Congress to rely more heavily on experts and plan for a five-year stretch, keeping spending to a minimum while having a tax rate that is expected to cover the spending. If revenues come in over budget, this will be used to off set any deficit. If there is no deficit, then revenues should be redirected back to the taxpayers directly, although leaving some monies in the treasury as a cushion.

The philosophy of the budget should always look into the future, but we seem to have become stuck in the near past. By forcing the budget process to look forward, it may be Congress will have to act with some amount of temperance.

Budgets should focus on several things. First, it must focus on defense. While I believe in a Just War Theory, I also believe that SunTzu’s hidden message is to be so well prepared for an attack, your enemy will simply not attack. However, the United States has become overburdened with a defense budget squandered on pet projects of Congressmen and women. With a five year budget plan, defense would be aimed at protecting the country rather than readying itself for war or engaged in an ongoing war.

The welfare of the people must be included in the budget. We have certain obligations to both those who have gone before us and those who come after us. Thus, budgets must include a certain amount of social welfare programs, limited to, again, five-year programs. There should be very few corporate welfare programs, and if such exist, they should be aimed at developing technologies and promoting American businesses. Most of the social welfare programs should be funded from taxpayers paying directly into their own accounts, such as unemployment insurance and social security. These programs must be kept off limits from the Government.

A subset of this area of the budget is two areas I consider vital to the progress of the country. First, budget must include monies to education. Second, infrastructure must be included. The budget must include forward looking accounts to promote both of these areas.