US Needs to Go on a Budget Diet

Whether it is losing that spare tire, giving up that daily latte, or taking that prized ten year old flannel shirt to good will, losing and the idea of doing without is never one that is very easy.  Let’s face it most of us are programmed in almost the same way. Give us something that we didn’t need and we say thank you.  Try to take it away and good luck.  Our US economic policy has proven this phenomenon transcends personal borders and actually manifests on a national scale as well. 

This phenomenon has never been more apparent than in the face of the current economic crisis that the United States faces.  President Obama has rallied his troops, and politicians from Seattle to Secaucus have all sung the praises of budget cutting and fiscal responsibility.  Interestingly enough though it appears that all politicians are on board for budget cuts at a macro perspective, but when it comes to actually cutting “THEIR” budgets – the consensus and collegial penny-pinching bureaucrats seem to lose it.  Effectively, all are ready for budget cuts so long as they don’t have to sacrifice any of their hard earned federal hand-outs. 

Take for instance the case of Mayor Pagliughi who is fighting proposed federal and state budget cuts to his tourism budget for the Cape May, New Jersey area.  It seems Mr. Pagliughi believes that proposed federal and state budget cuts will slow the nearly $5 Billion annually that is spent in Cape May County each year.

I’m certain that both state and federal funds have helped to ensure job stability and continued tourism revenues to Cape May County but the real question is what is the demarcation line for “have to have” versus “nice to have”.  

My approach to the issue of federal budget belt-tightening is quite simple, I parallel the budgeting process to my own simple family budgeting process.  If we only have X amount of income in a month and I know that we are going to have X+10% in expense…then guess what?  That’s right, like most American families I scour through the budget and cut the fluff for that month to ensure that we don’t spend ourselves into oblivion.  This expense cutting is certainly not pleasant but it is the responsible thing to do.  Often times the things that get cut are those that are most fatty in nature and are not core to keeping our household operating. For instance, maybe we cut back on our entertainment budget and don’t go to a museum or zoo, or maybe we eat out a few less times that month.  

Certainly I’m not naive, and I recognize that cutting jobs and federal programs is not as easy as cutting my daily latte, but, at the end of the day the approach is the same.  The idea that we can continue to spend without cutting back is flawed.  Cutting back by its very nature is a painful process and one that makes all involved uncomfortable and sometimes anxious.  However, the alternative to not cutting back now is that current politicians put an even greater weight on our future generations in terms of debts and delaying the very real, and hard decision making that is required by persons in power. 

So, let’s get real with ourselves and call a family meeting, sit-down, talk about it and get it done.  The current turf-protecting that is taking place in Washington and elsewhere is a recipe for more years of the same and a continued bloated and flawed federal budget.