Government Spending –   Where do we need to spend more?  Where less?


My view – It would be impossible to cover this topic in a month or two.  Over 20 years ago, the Grace Commission report to answer this question took two years and was 21,000 pages long.  I think that we need to look at a few areas of high cost to the government and hopefully using those areas discover what the candidates say they will do and see what they have done.  Right or wrong, I want to discuss four areas, Health and Human Services, Dept. of Defense, Interest on the National Debt, and the Department of Agriculture.  Those four are the biggest users of tax dollars (in the order listed). 

Health and Human Services – The largest budget item, mostly due to Medicare and Medicaid.   Healthcare reform has to account for the Medicare/Medicaid issue.  I imagine there are massive inefficiencies here but would need to study much more before making a recommendation.  DoD – The second largest (probably first if you bundle all related budgets) budget sector is begging for reform and cost cutting.  Suffice it to say, I feel our National Defense is supported by the constitution and critical to our nation’s survival.  However, its budget could be halved, in my view, within a single Presidential term.  The interest on the National Debt won’t go away until we stop printing money.  We won’t stop printing money until we get government spending under control.  Right now, the government’s favorite way to pay off the debt is to allow inflation.  Inflation allows the government to pay off current dollars borrowed with cheaper future dollars.  Only the citizens pay for this with higher prices instead of more taxes.  If you have too much debt at home, you cut expenses.  Our government should do the same.  Agriculture – What makes sense about paying someone not to plant tomatoes or not to raise pigs?  Really, I want to know.  I think we have an antiquated system of price supports and subsidies that needs a total overhaul. 


Mr. Obama’s views/plans:  Mr. Obama states that he wants government spending to be more accountable to the people and less wasteful.  He wants to address waste in Medicaid.  He wants to end porkbarrel spending.  He would vote to limit Pork Barrel Spending.  History,  He has voted for Paygo rules, against some farm subsidies, in favor of porkbarrel projects for his state.  He has been critical of and voted against most DoD funds requests.  He did propose a limit on porkbarrel but that limit was to the same level as today’s spending. 


Grade – B-    It is a mixed bag when he calls for less porkbarrel yet voted consistently for almost all the pork going to his state and has requested about $1 billion in his short time in the senate.  It appears he is serious about DoD cuts and some Agriculture cuts but would add to HHS expenditures.


Mr. McCain’s views/plans: Mr. McCain has been a champion against porkbarrel.  He has spoken out against most Agriculture subsides.  He has claimed he would cut billions from the Defense Budget.  He has proposed a significant change in the government acquisition system, something I am completely behind.  History:  Mr. McCain has walked the talk on porkbarrel.  He has neither requested nor voted for hardly any pork for his state.  He has voted consistently against ethanol and most farm subsidies.  I have not checked his record on Health and Human Services budget votes.  Prior to the recent stock market meltdown, defense stocks were discounted about 5% in anticipation of an Obama win.  That tells me that at least that sector believes Mr. Obama would do more to cut DoD budgets than would Mr. McCain.


Grade – B    My take is that Mr. McCain is more serious about pork and HHS cuts.  I think he would overall do more to cut programs and budgets in general.  I fear however, that he might not be as serious about Defense cuts and that is the big dog in this fight.