I have officially lived to see it all. Paul Ryan, perhaps the geekiest congressman in Washington, is suddenly the most popular kid in class. He and his green eye-shade pals have come up with a budget plan that is supposed to reduce the deficit over the next ten years..or something. Not to be outdone, the most liberal members of congress, the Progressive Caucus, have submitted for our approval something called the People’s Budget.( that’s odd. I thought Mao was dead) In it they dream big. To summarize it I’ll just say, let’s keep on borrowing and spending until we balance the budget! Each of these proposals are easy to make fun of and criticize and of course President Obama will enter the fray today with his plan in a speech at some university up north where he will try to present his plan as the reasonable alternative. Maybe he will employ some grand Solomonesque device of say, threatening to slice the fiscal baby of state in half if the two extremes of our national character don’t sit down and reason together, saith the Lord.
Anyway, I feel that now is the time for all caring citizens to rise to the occasion and offer up our own plans to right the ship of state. After all, its much easier to criticize the efforts of others than it is to offer an alternative. So if the Progressive Caucus can dream up a budget that would make Mao himself smile, the least I can do is offer one of my own. I think I’ll call it the Dunnevant Plan For Fiscal Sanity And National Renewal or DPFFSANR for short( I’ll probably have to work on the name later). Here goes.
I start by asking what the role of government should be. A quick reading of our founding documents informs me that of the 15 Departments of the federal government only 4 survive constitutional scrutiny. They are the departments of…Defense, Justice, State, and Treasury. This means I must eliminate the following:
Department of Agriculture- If its something that any idiot can do in his back yard we don’t need government’s help. Especially when they’re paying billions of dollars to huge corporate farmers. Somehow people have grown enough food to feed themselves for oh say 4000 years without a department of agriculture. In fact whenever governments get involved with farming, famine isn’t far behind ( google Soviet Union, agriculture, 1930’s)
Department of Interior-If for no other reason this department needs to go because it has a stupid name. The one department that concerns itself with the great outdoors is called the department of the INTERIOR. Fail.
Department of Education- This department since its creation has presided over epic delinquency rates, plunging test scores, and has produced millions of people like me who can’t spell. Sorry, this is a state and local concern. Besides, this was Jimmy Carter’s idea. Haven’t we suffered enough??
Department of Commerce- Quick name 5 responsibilities of this department. Well? I’m waiting?? Give up? Exactly.
Department of Veteran’s Affairs- I actually have some sympathy for the job being done by this outfit but it doesn’t rise to Department level. It should be moved to the Defense department to give them something to do after I get us out of Korea, Germany etc..
Department of Housing and Urban Development- Next time you are in ANY American city of over 100,000 people take a good look at any housing project that this fine establishment has built over the past 40 years. Not only should this department be eliminated but the date thereof should be celebrated as a national holiday in perpetuity. In the spirit of reconciliation I suggest that we not execute the management team.
Department of Transportation- Amtrak…enough said.
Department of Labor- Public sector unions are thought by many to be the fourth branch of government already. So they don’t need their own department.
Department of Energy- We haven’t built a refinery in this country in 30 years. There’s a moratorium on new oil exploration offshore. We can’t build nuclear plants anymore. Everyone hates coal, and we import tons of oil from nations that hate us. What energy?? Oh yeah, windmills. Since we have no coherent energy policy, no need for a department.
Department of Health and Human Services- These are the people in charge of administering the great social compact we have made between us and our government. They make sure that we humans get served with everything from food and medicine to comfy clothes and contraceptives, cradle to grave. Somewhere awhile back though, a mysterious line was crossed where this great safety net collided with human dignity and initiative and something slothful and debilitating was created…the ward of the state. Millions upon millions of citizens who no longer believe that they are ultimately responsible for themselves are now the responsibility of government under the auspices of this department and paid for by an ever shrinking tax base. (see deficit, federal, as far as the eye can see). We must rework the compact into something that can be administered by something less than this gargantuan monstrosity of a department.
Department of Homeland Security- ( see Bill of Rights )
Ok. So by my calculations I’ve just saved Uncle Sam 450 billion dollars and I haven’t even taken a shower yet! Now it gets harder because one of the four legitimate jobs of government is to provide for the common defense which brings us to the Department of Defense with its 750 Billion dollar budget. Now I take a back seat to nobody when it comes to supporting a strong national defense. We live in a dangerous world that requires the ability to react to a variety of contingencies. Having said that, what the heck are we doing with military bases in Germany? Japan? South Korea? Are these three countries unable to provide for their common defense? Are they economically limited in some way? Not only are they doing quite well economically, their economic health is enriched by the beleaguered American tax-payer because our army and navy is allowing their governments to spend the tons of money that they would normally have to spend on armies and navies, on fun stuff like selling billions of dollars of refrigerators, video games and luxury cars to the beleaguered American taxpayer. Its really a sweet deal for everyone except our soldiers and sailors. That brings me to an even thornier problem. Why are we still in Iraq and Afghanistan? Regardless of whether we should have gone into Iraq in the first place, why are we still there? Are we afraid that if we leave the country will descend into chaos and violence? Well its not exactly a garden spot now and if the Iraqis want a democracy they are going to have to establish it themselves at some point. We went into Afghanistan to kill Bin Laden right? Ok. He’s still alive and now we’re there to defeat the Taliban. If the Afghanis don’t like the Taliban they should fight them themselves ,something that they have demonstrated great skill at for 2000 years. Nothing that’s going on in that part of the world is worth one drop of American blood. Bring them home.
There. That’s probably another 250 billion from the Defense Department’s budget. So, in one morning in my pajamas I have single handedly cut this year’s deficit in half. I’ll be available later in the week for a rose garden ceremony.