The Horse Sense Blog compares the nonsense in today's news with good ol' fashioned horse sense

“…I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve.… It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.” - Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775

"The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it." - George Orwell

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Sequestration: Will It Show Us Leadership We Are Desperately In Need Of?

Here's the Nonsense:  Cuts to the defense budget cannot be allowed.  We will weaken our military and put American security at risk.  We must support our military by supplying whatever they request.  Those who do are the leaders we need for our nation.

Here's the Horse Sense:  Even the most sacred of cows can have fat that needs to be lost.  While the military has legitimate needs, many of those could be met if monies they have were spent responsibly.  How our leaders handle this problem is a good way to see who is really fit to lead.

As a devout conservative it's considered sacrilege by many to even mention the idea of defense cuts.  And if a Democrat wants it, then the feeling is that it must be a bad idea.  But that view, in and of itself, is one of the main reasons we have a problem.  No agency, department, or any area of government can be given carte blanche with money and be expected not to overspend.  The military is no different.  And the way our politicians handle something this critical is a good guide in determining some of their true leadership qualifications.

I have worked with the military on contracted projects and I can tell you that there is often an attitude of carelessness because "it's not our money" or "if we don't spend it, we'll lose it" that pervades when purchases are made.  The purchasing system in the military certainly leaves a lot to be desired.  In many ways it reinforces these very attitudes.  But the fact is that even if the system does encourage those attitudes, it is no excuse to allow it to go on.

Right now we are facing sequestration, which is the automatic cuts in spending because Congress didn't do their job.  While it's no shock that they didn't do their job, it is a reality we must face.  Contrary to what the politicians in Washington want us lowly voters to think, we really do have a spending problem.  Spending in our government is out of control.  If you or I were spending so much more than we make we'd be scrambling to find ways to stop the outbound flow of money and get things under control.  

To put that in a little better perspective, let's say your family makes $50,000 a year.  And let's say you spend $75,000 a year to cover your living expenses.  But that's not enough, let's add to that the fact that you have over $400,000 in credit card debt.  That is a very rough proportionate comparison of your hypothetical family's situation to what our government is doing.  You can't go on very long before all that will collapse on you.  Getting additional credit is, at best, a limited option because one day soon the creditors will quit loaning you money.  With that much debt at that level of income you'd be hard pressed to ever pay the debt off with interest accruing on it.  The fact is that your only real option is to stop spending so much.  You would need to get your spending down below $50,000 a year and learn to live on less than that amount.  And remember, that $50,000 would also need to include payments to pay off that debt, too.  

With over $16,500,000,000,000 (that's $16.5 trillion) in debt, the U. S. government has a very similar situation and there is no effort being made to cut spending, let alone pay off the debt.  In fact, Congress uses a budget methodology that allows for automatic increases each year and when they tell us that they are cutting spending what they are really cutting is the amount of increase.  That's even true in the sequestration debate that's going on.  Senator Rand Paul spoke out about it this week.

The spending cuts that will occur automatically under sequestration will be $1.2 trillion for the Defense Department over 10 years.  But according to Sen. Paul their budget will automatically go up $9 trillion without the sequester and almost $8 trillion with the sequester.  With sequestration they would not be receiving a cut.  They would be receiving less of an increase. reported about Sen. Paul's discussion on CNN's State of the Union program last Sunday.  It's reported that he said to host Candy Crowley that the sequester is a "pittance" according to Tea Party people.  He went on to say, "One trillion dollars, and we're increasing spending $9 trillion.  So really, even with the sequester, spending goes up $7 trillion or $8 trillion over the next 10 years.  We're not getting close to scratching the surface of the problem."

Sen. Paul understands that the problems we face are being driven by our economy and our economy is being driven by our debt.  The debt is costing us more than a potential sequester that will cut some spending.  The debt is costing us jobs and the futures of families nationwide in record numbers.  Sen. Paul told Crowley, "I think the debt is the number one [issue].  I think the debt is costing us a million jobs a year.  The economy slowed in the last quarter.  I really think we have to do something about how enormous government is.  And the way tea party folks see this is, we see it like our family budget.  I have to balance my budget at home, why shouldn't government?"

A few weeks ago in the Benghazi hearings Sen. Paul was the one who had the guts to stand up and say the hard words to Sec. Hillary Clinton when he told her that if he were president he would have fired her over what happened in Libya.  Now he has the nerve to stand up and say the difficult words about a sacred cow for the right.  A man who speaks like that is showing a courage that is found in true leaders.  We should be keeping an eye on him because he may be a serious consideration in future elections for an even higher position than the one he currently holds as senator.