Obama’s Right: Only Way is to Give Everybody a Haircut

By Bryan Fischer

From a purely pragmatic, practical standpoint, there is only way to balance the budget: give everybody a haircut, just like President Obama said.

Cut every item in the federal budget by the same amount, so everybody participates in that “shared sacrifice” the president is so fond of.

I read an economist this week who said that if the federal government reduced its outlays by just one percent a year for the next five years, we’d have a balanced budget by the end of the decade.

The Cato Institute, if memory serves, has calculated that if government expenditures were frozen at current levels, we’d have a balanced budget by 2016. If increases were limited to one percent a year, we’d balance the budget by 2017, and if expenditures went up by only two percent a year, we’d balance budget by 2020.

I don’t know exactly who’s right here, but the point is the same: curtailing the out-of-control growth in spending is the key to getting to a balanced budget, and it is perfectly doable.

So it’s possible. The only thing lacking is political will.

That’s why the only way this can happen is an across the board reduction, or freeze, or whatever, that impacts every part of the budget the same.

This came home to me in reflecting on two conversations I recently had with ardent social and fiscal conservatives. One was a Tea Party leader who called me urgently about a year and a half ago, saying there was an issue the Tea Party needed to address. It turned out that the state legislature was about the reduce funding for a welfare program – foster care – from which he drew part of his income. I reminded him that the Tea Party came into being to reduce government spending, not expand it, and the idea went no further.

I had another conversation with a conservative more recently who explained that she would be willing to dump every federal program other than this one particular federal welfare program from which an extended family member had drawn benefits. That program she was willing to vigorously defend, while willing to see every other federal program sink to the bottom of the sea.

And these were conservatives who share our values completely. It occurred to me that we have now become so dependent on government handouts, conservatives and liberals alike, that almost everybody now has a favorite welfare program they don’t want to see touched. Even many conservatives now feel this way.

That means the only possible way reducing spending can move forward politically is if everybody has to the share the pain right along with everybody else. No government program, including defense, can be spared. Otherwise there will be so much moaning and wailing – from self-identified conservatives! – that we’ll never get it done.

So that’s the plan: an across the board, one percent reduction in spending in every federal program from defense to Social Security to Medicare to Medicaid to Head Start, to food stamps, the EPA, HUD, HHS etc. ad nauseum. In less than a decade, voila, a balanced budget.

And it’s all done with the cherished “shared sacrifice” so idolized by our president, so he’s hardly in a position to complain since we’re taking his advice.

Time to get out the pruning shears and give everybody a trim. It’s the only way.

(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)

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Self-Educated American contributing editor, Bryan Fischer, is Director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy at the American Family Association, and is the host of the daily ‘Focal Point’ radio talk program on AFR Talk, a division of the American Family Association. ‘Focal Point’ airs live from 1-3 pm Central Time, and is also simulcast on the AFA Channel, which can be seen on the Sky Angel network.