Over the past couple of weeks, discussions involving both the federal and state budget got under way. As expected, the incessant cackle from politicians, lobbyists and the “special interest groups,” many of which are based in Washington D.C., wasn’t far behind.
Generally speaking, most public statements made by politicians, self-serving bureaucrats and lobbyists bring very little in the way of intellect to the budget conversation. Most statements made by the political class are condescending and counterproductive, and often childish. As taxpayers, it is up to us to demonstrate more maturity and commonsense during the budget process than what is demonstrated by those who make a living out of being benefactors of a government budget, whether at the local or federal level.
When politicians use words such as uncaring, draconian and harmful, they may think they are merely casting insults at their political counterparts, but what they are really doing is throwing out invectives to those who fund the public treasury, the taxpayers. However, too many in government see the taxpayer as an unlimited supply of money, never once looking for fraud, abuse or misapplication within the public treasury, which is funded by the hard-working, responsible people that many in government dismiss. The callousness of some public servants in this regard has less to do with the false belief that taxpayers are selfish or greedy, and more to do with the reluctance of taxpayers to surrender their hard-earned money. Some in government believe they have a sense of entitlement to money earned by the taxpayer, but feel no sense of obligation to spend and safeguard that money wisely.
As with a business or household budget, we cannot always get what we want or sometimes need. This does not make us uncaring or unwise; it means we have to live within our means, a term completely lost on a majority of politicians. One of the things that amazes me the most is the fact that a person overseeing a business or household budget will look for areas of waste, redundancy and other areas to help maximize every penny. Yet, this is a concept completely foreign to our elected representatives and appointed bureaucrats. It is easy to be unsympathetic when it is not your money you are wasting.
One merely needs to look at the headlines over the past few weeks to understand our government has lost all respect for its citizens, failing at their most basic responsibility. I could write an article every week about the fraud, abuse and foolish government spending. Trillions of dollars are wasted, and yet some have the audacity to say the taxpayers “need to pay their fair share.” The American taxpayers have paid more than their fair share. Those politicians who claim they care about the middle-class (at least at election time) must prove it. Stop the fraud, waste and abuse to the tune of trillions of taxpayer dollars. Earn the respect of your constituents and prove you value their efforts.
We recently learned from the Office of Management and Budget that over the past few years the federal government made more than half-trillion dollars ($688 billion) in improper payments through the SNAP program (food stamp), Medicaid/Medicare, and the Earned Income Tax Credit. In a separate report we learned the federal government “misplaced” more than $100 billion in Social Security funds.
This past week we learned from the Office of Personnel Management that the American taxpayer “pays” federal workers to work 100 percent on union activities. Some 3.4 million federal man-hours are spent solely on union activities, including more than 200 employees at the VA who do nothing but union business. I have to believe those 200 VA employees could have been utilized in a more productive fashion, such as taking care of our veterans.
The very government website intended to make federal spending more transparent was missing at least $619 billion from more than 300 federal programs, a recent government audit has found. According to the Government Accountability Office, which looked at available spending data, only 2 to 7 percent of spending data on USASpending.gov is “consistent with agencies’ records.” But waste and abuse is not just a federal problem.
Just this past week the New Hampshire Senate passed a bill prohibiting EBT welfare (TANF) recipients from using the “benefits” to buy alcohol, tobacco, lottery tickets, tattoos and other similar items and services. We learned that 78 percent of the funds are withdrawn as cash, making it virtually free to be spent illegally. The N.H. Department of Health and Human Services admits it can’t track how welfare assistance is spent, and that it currently has a 13-month backlog on fraud investigations. There is more fraud and abuse within the N.H. government, but Gov. Hassan has fought every attempt to hold herself to her promise to ensure that state government is transparent. The Concord Monitor has filed three separate requests under the Right to Know law asking Hassan to release her efficiency proposals. Hassan does not want the New Hampshire people to see them, which is just another reason why taxpayers distrust their government and how they spend (and waste) their hard earned money.
As with the Medicaid debate last year, professional political agitators are more concerned about getting ahead of their own hyperbole, instead of actually working constructively toward a sound budget at both the federal and state level. It is in the best interests of the political class to cause chaos and tension, because without it citizens would only have time to take a harder look at the budget, and see how our government squanders the taxes paid by the citizens of New Hampshire.
Do not allow yourself to be spurred on by your friendly politician or political agitator, and become willing participants at the name calling, duplicity and immature dialog that only drives the conversation to a place detrimental for all concerned. Advocate for your positions, but be better than many of those who were elected and hired to serve our best interests.