(FORUM) Budget philosophy

The following is commentary intended for discussion. Add your comments.

In most spending contexts, it works something like this: estimates are obtained for needed products and services. The products and services are obtained within a pre-prescribed budget.

As you know, the federal government doesn’t work this way.

Instead of determining, philosophically, what range of responsibilities belongs to the federal government, deciding upon a reasonable low tax rate, figuring how much that will bring in, then prioritizing services that can be provided within the budget; the government spends unlimited taxpayer funds and then tries to find more and more money among those paying the bill.

One could confiscate every penny from every corporation and individual in America and still not be able to fund all of the things that some people want to fund.

Do you think the federal government is constitutionally or otherwise limited in the functions it’s supposed to provide? What do you think should be covered?

Should federal agencies be required to prepare a zero-based budget, at least once in awhile? (This means starting at zero and justifying every penny they ask for line by line rather than just adding a percentage each year.)

Many of us know about “silly season,” the end of the fiscal year when government agencies rush to spend any leftover money on anything and everything so that they don’t show anything left at the end of the year. One federal paper supplier told me that he’s called at the end of each fiscal year to pick up thousands of boxes of unused paper at various agencies to shred. He felt so bad about this, he tried to donate the boxes to DC area schools that were crying poor and claiming paper shortages, but he says they didn’t want the paper.

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3 thoughts on “(FORUM) Budget philosophy”

  1. Periodic zero based budgeting is a great idea. Maybe once every 5 years (since it is a fantasy). Also somehow rewarding for cost savings in some meaningful way that will encourage right thinking.

  2. Zero-Base Budgeting. All agencies start at zero every year and must justify everything they propose to spend. Sunlight, etc.

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