Sunday, August 12, 2012

Solving the Federal Budget

Mitt Romney has chosen Wisconsin Senator Paul Ryan to be his running mate. Ryan has been seen as many as "a" if not "the" rising star of the Republican Party, especially among those of the libertarian persuasion. Ryan is a strong proponent of small government and fiscal accountability. Many among the Conservative Right and Moderates will find Ryan acceptable, but certainly nothing to make them gush or turn giddy with excitement. I think he's enough of the threat that I can hardly wait to see how the editorial board of our "once great newspaper" conjures up stories to discredit him. Ryan has been just about the only one on Capitol Hill to propose anything resembling a budget "plan". I think he's one of the few who even have an inkling of what economics is all about. Frankly, given the position of Vice President, who is just a heartbeat away from the second highest office in the land , I would prefer Ryan over Joe Biden any day of the week (the highest office would seem to go to the Supreme Court these days).

Thinking about a Ryan Vice Presidency got me to thinking about the budget. What could we do to get the politicians in Washington working for us for a change? We're staring over a financial cliff of no return unless the Beltway Bozos get their act to together and come up a serious answer to our budgetary problems by January 1st. To paraphrase Nietzsche, "If we stare into the financial abyss long enough does Congress stare blankly back at us?" Politicians on both sides of the aisle know their daily bread is buttered by "E" Street lobbyists on behalf of their corporate masters while voters seem to be a barely needed necessary evil (if only they could get around that pesky electorate, which they've nearly succeeded in doing thanks to gerrymandering).
What if we demanded that everyone elected to federal office ---Congressmen/women, Senators, the President and Vice President, as well as some of those appointed to high office, like the Federal Reserve Bank Chairman and the Heads of the Federal Reserve Board personally guarantee the solvency of the USA? Seriously. What if they actually had their collective butts on the line like you and I do? With the economic "recovery" either stalling or more accurately, tanking, most of us are looking at companies closing, unemployment or at least reduced hours, foreclosure, loss of insurance and/or other benefits, and so on.

Let's face it. The worse that can happen to these multi-millionaire politicos is that, somehow, they lose their jobs. Perhaps rigging the district to get the most favorable electoral turnout doesn't work and voters actually showed up to vote? Farfetched I admit, but what if? What happens to that uber-rich Congressman or Senator? Well, after going on vacation (something most us can't afford anymore) to some exotic venue (paid for by some "anonymous" beneficiary), they'll likely come back and walk back through the revolving Corporate/Government door into a seven figure job that will allow them to continue hobnobbing with their Washington friends (what happens to you if you lose your job?). The same thing can be expected of those appointed to high office. Not much difference really except they don't have to face those pesky voters every so often and fake like their care. But, back to my question.

What if, upon taking the oath of office, they also had to sign a blanket personal guarantee, putting all they own on the line for the term of their office (no waivers or exemptions; no transferring everything into their wife's or favorite dog's name. Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate are all put into blind trust held by the US Taxpayers). Don't you think that would give them a vested interest in passing a realistic budget?

Now I am fully cognizant that all the wealth of these Congressmen, Senators, President, Vice President and assorted appointed office holders combined wouldn't be a drop in budgetary bucket, but it would give them pause about playing financial chicken with our lives. If they knew they'd lose everything if they defaulted on the balanced budget, I think these phony baloney politicians would get busy and do something don't you?

Politics is about power. Getting it; getting more of it; and making connections and money off of it. Getting booted out of office isn't that big a deal. Potentially losing all their stuff is. Maybe we'd get more individuals running for office who understand a thing or two about economics, credit, and finance and fewer lawyers who know about writing loopholes for their buddies.
While we're at it, let's make these schmucks use the same insurance we use. No more state of the art gyms paid for by you and me. No more first class seats; no more private flights at our expense. Commercial air. Business class seats. They may be partisans but at least they can fly united.

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