Don't pay your taxes, America.
There. Solved. Next problem.
Wouldn't that be something, if America simply said, "Enough!" If Americans didn't eat Hamburger Helper and keep the thermostat at 66 degrees all winter so they could save enough money to give to the federal government, which would once again spend it like Liberace at a candelabra shop? (Sorry to those under 50 — for the younger set, think Miley Cyrus at a tattoo parlor).
What if Americans decided that the federal government and the 535 men and women in Congress paid — by us — to run our government just aren't up to the task? What if they said — all 308 million (yes, all the babies, too) — that those servants we've hired may even be suffering from dementia and must be stopped immediately? They must be nuts, right, thinking they can spend $3.6 trillion when we give them only $2.5 trillion?
Now, think about that. Last year, Americans busted their humps, grinding through mind-numbing commutes for hundreds of hours, slaving away at their jobs — whether they like 'em or not — worked evenings, weekends, missed Little League games, dinners with family and friends, just to make ends meet, balance the books. In an economy the re-elected president loves to say is the worst since the Great Depression (and his intent is to see that it lasts just as long), Americans have struggled through; they hunkered down, kept that drudge job, did their work to stay alive.
And then the government said, "Hey, fantastic: We're going to need $2.2 trillion of that cash."
What if that father and mother raising two children, sitting around the kitchen table, scratching out a budget, deciding whether they can afford braces for Timmy or ballet lessons for Tammy, said: Enough! If they said: The federal government ought to run like we run our family budget, and until they comprehend that, no money for you. Like the Soup Nazi said to Elaine Benes in 'Seinfeld': "You know something? No soup for you! Come back, one year! Next!"
The Congressional Budget Office, charged with providing economic data to lawmakers, put out some wonderful statistics a while back that the Heritage Foundation worked into a spectacular chart to explain just what the federal government really does — family style. The median family income a couple years ago was $51,360 (let's say that equals the $2.5 trillion Americans give to the feds). Now, if that median family acted like the government, it would spend $73,319 (equivalent to $3.6 trillion), putting 30 cents of every dollar it spent on a credit card. If if kept on "deficit spending," (in terms a 5-year-old can understand, spending more than you bring in), that median family would eventually rack up a debt of $325,781 (our $16 trillion national debt), always borrowing more to pay off the rising interest (currently about $4 billion per DAY).
Simply put, it would never, ever be able to dig out of that hole.
So, that median family would have two choices: They could seek higher-paying jobs (maybe pull the children from school, maybe have them work in Times Square trying to get people to go to lousy comedy shows), or they could STOP SPENDING SO MUCH MONEY!
That — the latter — is what millions of Americans have done. Americans, 23 million of them who are either unemployed or underemployed (think Mozart making apple strudel for a living), have made do with less: cutting corners, clipping coupons, skipping braces and ballet and baseball games.
And what has President Obama said? Sorry, that's not enough. Worse, he says, It's YOUR fault we're in this jam — you simply aren't giving us enough money. We need more, more, more. Sure, you haven't popped off to Hawaii for a 20-day, $4 million vacation lately (as the president and first lady plan to do later this month), but still, you Americans just aren't doing enough. While families have said, well, this household budget crunch means no more cable TV, moms have taken to darning socks and dads have cut out that weekend round of golf, Democrats say, "Cut? There isn't a thing we can cut! Not Medicare, not welfare, not Social Security" (and certainly not that federal study on whether a rabbit is more absorbent than a poodle).
More numbers, you say? Gladly. Federal spending has grown 12 times faster than median income; mandatory spending six times faster than discretionary spending (70 percent now goes to dependence programs); the president wants to INCREASE spending by $2.5 trillion in the next decade; and if you're one of those the president says isn't paying "your fair share," let it be noted that the wealthiest 1 percent paid $85 billion more in taxes in 2007 than they had in 2001 — even with those horrible "Bush tax cuts."
No, it's time America simply said, "Enough. We need the federal government to protect our nation, maybe fix the roads from time to time. We don't need it telling us how to educate our children, farm our land, how to spend our money — or which light bulbs to use."
And like the parents of those millions of struggling families, it's time the grown-ups told the government, like they do their children, "You're grounded — and no more allowance! Come back, one year!"
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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