- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
- ‘Maverick’ of the seas: ‘Top Gun’ school for U.S. ship officers to launch
- Putin declares Sochi Paralympics open amid Ukrainian protest
- ‘In Jesus name, we pray’ sparks ire at Ohio council meeting
- Navy’s first laser weapon ready for prime time; drone killer to deploy this summer
- Billionaire backer: Rick Santorum ‘needs to be heard’ in 2016
- Obamacare fallout: 49 percent pessimistic; 45 percent ‘scared’
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
FEULNER: Avoiding fiscal catastrophe
Reforms that can help us secure the future
Thanks to unbridled spending, corporate bailouts and the takeover of the best health care system in the world, America stands on the verge of a financial cliff that endangers our future, our children’s future and our grandchildren’s future.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here is a series of reforms that can help us avoid fiscal catastrophe:
• Enact spending caps. Washington has no enforceable limits on its spending. As long as Congress remains under pressure to spend, members need annual spending caps to help them set annual priorities and make the necessary trade-offs.
Congress should enact a firm cap on the annual increase in total government spending, limited to inflation plus population growth. It should also include triggers and other protections to prevent lawmakers from bypassing this cap.
• Rein in entitlements. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are driving long-term deficit growth. It is impossible to rein in runaway spending significantly without fundamentally reforming these programs.
• Empower states. Washington taxes families, subtracts a hefty administrative cost and sends the remaining revenues back to state and local governments with specific rules dictating how to spend the money.
Instead of performing many functions poorly, Congress should focus on performing a few functions well. Most highway, education, justice and economic-development programs should be devolved to state and local governments, which have the flexibility to tailor local programs to local needs.
• Empower the private sector. Anyone who has dealt with the post office or lived in public housing knows how wasteful, inefficient and unresponsive government can be. Government ownership of business also crowds out private companies and encourages protected entities to take unnecessary risks.
After promising profits, government-owned businesses frequently lose billions of dollars, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill. Any government function that can be found in the yellow pages should be a candidate for privatization.
• Ban corporate welfare. Even before the financial bailouts, Washington spent more on corporate welfare ($90 billion) than on homeland security ($70 billion). Americans should not be taxed to subsidize profitable companies. Lawmakers could start by reforming America’s largest corporate-welfare program; namely, farm subsidies, which are overwhelmingly distributed to large, profitable agribusinesses rather than struggling family farmers. Other programs, such as the Advanced Innovation Program (formerly the Advanced Technology Program) should be cut.
• Eliminate pork and waste. Each year, Washington loses billions of dollars to payment errors and pays billion more to maintain vacant federal properties. Washington also diverts about $20 billion annually into pork projects, corrupting the legislative process by assigning taxpayer dollars on the basis of lobbying rather than merit.
• Bring federal pay into line with the private sector. Besides doing too many things best left to the private sector and the states, the federal government pays its employees substantially more than they would earn in the private sector. Total compensation — hourly wages plus benefits — is 30 percent to 40 percent above that of comparable private-sector workers. Aligning federal compensation with market rates would save taxpayers about $47 billion annually.
Without serious planning and foresight, America’s future will be grim. The unrest in Europe in recent years, from Greece to Great Britain, is a warning, a crystal ball through which we can see what might well happen to us should we succumb to the temptations of irresponsible government.
Ed Feulner is founder of the Heritage Foundation.
About the Author
TWT Video Picks
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
Get Breaking Alerts
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- U.S. deploys 12 F-16 fighter jets to Poland as exercise in response to Ukraine situation
- High schooler suing parents for money shot down by judge
- Senate Democrats, Republicans spar over restoring unemployment benefits
- Six Senate seats could hinge on Keystone pipeline
- Russias Putin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
- Italy outraged over U.S. gun dealer's 'David' ad
- CURL: The modern GOP really is Reagan's 'Big Tent' party
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
Recent Letters to the Editor
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Time for feckless president to show resolve
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Obama reserves 'Chicago way' for GOP
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Public education would wither in free market
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Turkey not committed to Cyprus peace
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Spoiled-kid culture creates greedy adults