Mr. Trump, I Wrote a Speech For You. No Charge!


photo courtesy Salon.com

photo courtesy Salon.com

My fellow citizens, if you elect me, Donald Trump, to be your president, here are my domestic priorities for the first hundred days of my term:

Government Accountability and Reform

Government sector unions will be eliminated or restrictions imposed, such as:  Unions would be prohibited from contributing to political candidates or having any involvement in political campaigns.  Government employees would be employed “at will”, empowering managers to hire, fire, and discipline without union intervention.  They would be subject to the same payroll and benefit laws as the private sector, including social security, 401k, and Medicaid coverage or private health insurance allowance.  We can no longer tolerate a government where nobody is responsible for anything or ever gets fired.

Congress will establish biannual performance and zero-based budget requirements for every department and agency, and oversight committees will hold agency heads responsible for meeting goals, with the authority to discipline or discharge failing managers.  Redundant and obsolete services and programs will be eliminated from agencies and departments.  This is basic economics, understood by every American.

All elected officials will be subject to the same ethics standards and prosecution as private sector corporate officials, prohibiting insider trading, personal gain from transactions and decisions, nepotism, payoffs for campaign contributions, and any other breaches of trust.  Why should elected officials get away with corruption that is not tolerated in private business?

Congressional term limits will be established.  The power structure must be brought under control.

Congress will be required to produce timely budgets; continuing resolutions will be prohibited.  The job of Congress is to budget and appropriate.  If they don’t do that, we don’t need them.

Law and Order

My new IRS and FBI commissioners will investigate Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation for tax fraud and improper quid pro quo deals with foreign companies and governments.  This kind of corruption must be brought to light and stopped once and for all.

Sanctuary cities will be denied federal funding.  Existing immigration laws will be enforced at the borders and ports, and in all government offices and programs.  Officials who fail or refuse to enforce any federal law will be disciplined or terminated.  Without borders, we have no country.  And without law enforcement, we have anarchy.

Federal involvement in local law enforcement will cease, including the use of consent decrees to impose federal control.

Health, Welfare, Housing and Education

The Affordable Health Care Act will be repealed and replaced by a congressionally approved plan which includes a provision for a federal assigned risk pool for pre-existing conditions.

Federal funding of all means-tested welfare and assistance programs and all educational programs will be limited to block grants to the states.  Our Constitution intended the power of the people to reside in state governments, not federal.  This is the United STATES of America.

Government funding of private health care providers specifically including Planned Parenthood will be prohibited.

The federal student loan program will be eliminated and restored to the private sector.  Any program for relief from student loan debt will include provisions for clawback of public losses from the universities who received the student loan payments.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other government subsidized home loan programs will be phased out, restoring the mortgage industry to the private sector.

Tax Reform

Estate taxes will be permanently eliminated – it is double taxation.  Corporate income tax will be significantly reduced to encourage repatriation of assets and domestic production.  Personal income taxes will be simplified.  Loopholes and carve-outs will be eliminated for businesses and individuals.

Businesses will receive tax incentives for providing modern technical training programs that meet their workforce needs and result in direct sustained employment of individuals, replacing unnecessary and unproductive college time and expense.

Immigration

Legal immigration rates and eligibilities will be revisited by Congress with impact analysis on jobs, the economy, security, and infrastructure.  Charity will not be a consideration, as it is not a function of government.  Illegal immigration will be treated and enforced as a criminal act.

These action items have the strong support of a majority of Americans.  If Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell fail to take action on these important tasks, I will use the bully pulpit of the Presidency to admonish and encourage and even embarrass them.  And if they still refuse to respond to the will of their constituents, as they have over the last many years, I will find other ways to give the people what they want.

Please vote for me, your humble servant, Donald Trump.


Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Well, it’s about time for things to get better
We want the truth, the truth and no more lies
We want freedom, justice and equality
I want it for you and I want it for me
Well, well
Give the people what they want!

Give the People What They Want – the O’Jays

Here’s a great song by the O’Jays – from Soul Train, 1975.  Check it out!

We Must Demand Real Federal Budgets

zero based budgetingZero-Based Budgeting is a simple concept, practiced by every family and every company in the USA.  We all determine how much money we will receive for a given period, and then decide how we are going to spend it.  We give priority to necessities, and then, if funds are available, we may indulge in luxuries or less-important items.

In fact the practice is so simple, so obvious, so common-sense that we don’t even give it a thought.  We just do it.  Most Americans would be surprised to learn that our federal government, with the largest budget on planet Earth, does not.   The government simply takes whatever amount each department or agency spent last year, and adds to it.  It is a recipe for economic disaster, and our $18 trillion debt is exactly that.

Last month Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) introduced HR1591, the “Zero-Based Budgeting Ensures Responsible Oversight Act of 2015”.  ZERO for short.  It’s his third attempt to bring reason to our federal budget process.

The ZERO Act would require each department to justify all of its spending every year.  Congressman Ross points out that in recent years taxpayers paid $615,000 to digitize Grateful Dead tickets, $442,000 to study male prostitutes in Vietnam, and $2.5 million for a Super Bowl ad.  Neither you, nor I, nor any of our elected representatives authorized that spending.  But it happened because there is no oversight, and under the current “continuing resolution” system, there can’t be.

If ZERO is enacted, departments would have to describe every activity for which funding is requested, provide the legal basis for the activity, and offer three alternative funding levels, two of which would be below the current year’s level.  They would have to provide details on the benefits derived from each activity and any added benefit for increased funding.  Plus, they must show measures of cost efficiency and effectiveness.

Congressman Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) told me he and the budget committee “will take up zero-based budgeting as part of budget reform later this summer.”  So far only one congressman, David Jolly (R-FL) has co-sponsored HR1591.

At least three presidential candidates are advocates of Zero-Based Budgeting.  Two of them, Rick Perry and Jeb Bush, are governors who understand budgeting.  The third is Carly Fiorina, a dollar-savvy former CEO to whom ZBB is second nature.  Fiorina told Breitbart News about something I personally experienced as a small business owner:

“I started my career in Washington, D.C. and sold to the federal government. As anyone who has done business with the federal government knows, in the last six weeks of every year, every government agency spends every dime,” she continued. They do that because they want to make sure the appropriations process is focused on the rate of increase for the following year – not what they actually need or whether they actually need to spend it.”

We taxpayers are dropping the ball.  First of all, we don’t understand our own tax returns.  And second, we don’t do a good job of holding our elected officials and the bureaucrats they are supposed to oversee accountable for spending our money.

It is admittedly hard work to budget every year, and to actually plan and prioritize spending.  Families do it.  Businesses do it.  Is it too much to ask of our government officials and employees?  Let’s encourage our congressmen to get behind real budget reform.

This article can be seen in its entirety at Watchdog Arena.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

What’s that honey?
Pick you up at eight?  And don’t be late?
But baby, I ain’t got NOOOOOOOO money, honey!
Oh, all right honey, you know what I like!

Chantilly Lace – the Big Bopper

 

Here’s a fun video about a guy with a budget problem:

 

Mulvaney: Budget Committee to Push Zero-Based Budgeting

zero

see this article in its entirety at Watchdog Arena

There is no mystery to budgeting.  Whether you manage the finances for your family, your little league baseball team, or your business, you and everybody else in the private sector makes spending decisions the same way:  you determine how much money is available, and you set priorities for how to spend (or save) it.

Why is our federal government incapable of writing and managing a budget?

Those of us who live in the real world use a process called zero-based budgeting.  You may have never heard of the term.  It is such a common-sense approach that we all do it instinctively.  We categorize our spending into “needs” and “wants”.  Needs get priority.  We provide our families the necessary things like shelter and food before we start thinking about vacations, big screen televisions, and concert tickets.  If there are remaining “discretionary” funds, we decide how to spend or save them.

Unfortunately, that’s not the way that government – especially the federal government – thinks.

The way government has operated for many years, every department is entitled to the amount they spent last year, plus an increase.  Call it “continuing resolution”, “continuing appropriation”, or whatever – I call it flat-out laziness.  One of the primary responsibilities of our congress is to make sure that the funds taken from citizens are necessarily and appropriately spent.  Oversight of government spending should be priority one.  Unfortunately, it gets little, if any, attention from our elected officials, who spend their days pondering such weighty issues as whether the one tenth of one percent of the population who are sexually confused should get to choose which public bathroom they use.

You see, it is hard work to dig into the details of how each department and agency spends its money.  It’s much easier to just give each whatever amount they got last year, plus a kicker – because the employees probably deserve a raise, right?

Wouldn’t it be a refreshing change if congress did its job and started managing our money the way the rest of us do?

Maybe there is hope.  I asked my congressman, Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), who sits on the House Budget Committee, if there is any chance that the federal government might adopt zero-based budgeting.  I was surprised at his answer.  “I fully expect the House to pass budget reform this year, and that will include zero-based budgeting,” Mulvaney said.

This could be big.  Existing programs are never cut back, only increased.  And new programs require new funding.  Is it any wonder our national debt spirals out of sight?  Imagine our government agencies having to justify every program, every expenditure, every employee, every line item, on a yearly basis.  Just like businesses do.  Just like your family does.

“There is a chance it will pass and get signed,” Mulvaney said.  “The budget process is really, really boring but really, really important.  And it hasn’t been reformed since 1974.  It will be the biggest story you won’t hear much about in DC this year.”

Some political analysts advocate the “penny plan” as a budget-balancing measure.  The penny plan would cut one cent across the board from every dollar the federal government spends for five years, and then put a cap on national spending at 18% of GDP.  Mathematically it works, but it doesn’t address the fact that some spending is totally wasted, while not enough is allocated to other important work that taxpayers would support.  Cutting back on totally worthless programs while starving worthwhile ones is not good oversight.

Many programs, like the corrupt, obsolete Export-Import Bank, continue year after year with no justification other than inertia.  To this point, Congress hasn’t been able to muster the willpower to put these programs to bed even after they have long outlived their purposes, and they continue to stumble around like aimless zombies lost in timeless hell.  If every program had to justify its budget annually, we could quickly gain the upper hand over our exploding debt.

Here’s hoping the most important number in government this year is zero.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideMaybe I’ll win
Saved by zero.
Maybe I’ll win!
Saved by zero.

Saved By Zero – the Fixx

 

Budgeting For Dummies

My wife and I were so excited when we bought our first home back in the 1970s, just a few miles west of Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls.   We hadn’t been there more than a month and were outside in the yard, raking leaves.  Suddenly we saw a huge plume of thick, black smoke rolling out of the base.

“What the heck is that?”  We looked at each other, and guessed that a plane must have crashed and exploded.

We looked in the newspaper the next day, and watched the TV news, anticipating a story about the mystery explosion at the base.  But there was no report.

Still curious, a few days later I asked a friend who worked at Malmstrom, “What was that big cloud of smoke at the base all about?  Was there a plane crash?”

Puzzled, he said nothing out of the ordinary had occurred.  Then he said, “Wait a minute, was that Friday?”  I said yes.  He said, “Oh, that’s normal.  On the last day of the month, they always pour their excess jet fuel on the ground and burn it so they get their full allocation for the next period.  They call it fire fighter training.”

It’s common knowledge.  The way budgeting works in every government department is thus:  you get what you got before, plus a little more.  Whether you need it or not.  Whether your department is functional or not.  Whether the program is still needed or not.  Whether we have the money or not.

Is it any wonder our governments are bloated, inefficient, and ineffective?  Can you imagine any family or business running like this?

Our US Senate has not even bothered to write a budget for over three years.  Didn’t seem to matter much, did it?

I can give countless other examples of the idiocy of our government budget process, but I’m sure you have plenty of your own.

Rick Hill, Montana candidate for governor, really got my attention when he said he would work to implement “Priority Based Budgeting” if elected.  It didn’t get much of a reaction in the press, but I think it is the singular most significant promise I have heard this year by any candidate for any office.



Imagine if Hill’s common-sense idea were implemented at all levels of government.  We would find thousands of government buildings and other assets no longer needed, agencies who compete inefficiently with each other to provide the same services, and buildings full of desks full of people whose purpose became obsolete long ago.

There is no excuse for the laziness of our elected officials, who shirk their oversight responsibilities for the myriad of government agencies and departments.

If elected, Rick Hill and Mitt Romney and other elected executives have a golden opportunity before them: they can press the RESET button.  It might work like this:

  • CITIZEN RESET – Every citizen who receives an entitlement (other than social security) has one year to re-apply for program qualification.  Are you receiving disability?  Let’s make sure you are still disabled (or ever were).  Are you on unemployment?  You will be required to show that you are actively making yourself available and employable.
  • GOVERNMENT RESET – Every department has one year to justify its existence, demonstrate and quantify the value it offers taxpayers, and request its first zero-based budget.  The executive will require legislative oversight that is meaningful, detailed, and transparent.  And all payments made by the government will be audited against the budget.

Using the data management capabilities that are commonplace in business today, fraud and waste in government are easily preventable.  In spite of their promises, our elected officials have never even tried, and there is no time like the present.

Oh, and all government employees will be required to read “Budgeting for Dummies.”  There will be a quiz.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Zero-based budgeting,
according to Billy Preston
(gotta love the hair!)

Nothin’ from nothin’ leaves nothin’
You gotta have somethin’
If you wanna be with me

Nothin’ From Nothin’ – Billy Preston