…We have a spending problem, not a revenue problem…
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH)

How many times have we heard this statement, not just from Speaker Boehner but Republican after Republican.  They claim that we can easily solve our deficit crisis by cutting our way out.  That’s right, just a simple cut the fat out of the government and everything will be fine…

…uh, not so fast…

Let’s take a bit and think about this.

Here is another statement that has been said many times by both sides…

We currently borrow over forty cents for every dollar spent by the Federal Government.

Just looking at those two statements, in order for the United States to start living within its means, we have to cut the entire size and spending of the Federal Government by over forty percent…and that cut doesn’t even begin to start paying back the trillions of dollars we already owe.  If we want to start paying that back in a reasonable amount of time, we would probably have to cut the size of the government by fifty percent or more. 

Also this is a permanent cut in the size and scope of the Federal Government, not just a temporary one to get us out of this mess.

So if we want to take the Republicans word that we can cut our way out of this, lets see what happens when we start cutting government down to a level so that we can start paying back what we owe…

1)  Defense Spending – One of the big government costs, there are some ways right away to bring this amount down.  First off, we immediately bring home all our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.  That would make a lot of people on both sides happy, but it would also destabilize the geopolitical situation in the Middle East and may allow the Taliban to regain a foothold.  But we’re saving money so it’s all good, right?

Next, we would need to reduce the size of our military in order to reduce its payroll…by at least forty percent.

Also, we would probably have to reduce, suspend, or completely cancel dozens of projects for new military hardware like guns, tanks, and planes.

2)  Social Security / Medicare / Medicaid – As we know these are programs that the Republicans have wanted to dismantle since they were created, so of course they would be glad to see this.  Now, in order to cut these programs to the level we need to, we would first off have to reduce the amount the beneficiaries are paid, as well as cutting the amount payed to the providers for these programs. 

Also, there would never be another cost of living increase for Social Security and the amount payed to our seniors each month would be reduced as well. That could mean more seniors on the streets or unable to eat…but we’re saving money, right?

Now that we’ve covered a couple of the big ticket items, what would happen to some of the smaller agencies…

3)  FAA – As we know, because of Republican hatred for unions there has already been 4,000 workers furloughed.  We also have already stopped on several airport construction projects.  But if the agency had to take further cuts, some of the air traffic controllers may have to be cut as well.  The system is already strained and with these cuts it may mean that airports would be forced to reduce the number of aircraft allowed to take off and land.  That also means, ticket prices would go up since there would be fewer planes in the air and that could also mean longer delays at airports.

4)  Border Patrol – Immigration is already a hot button issue, and this would easily make the matter go volcanic.  We already don’t have enough Border Agents to keep illegal immigrants from coming in, so with even fewer Agents, our already porous borders would basically become undefended.  Also, there would be less border inspections so that could mean more illegal drugs and possibly contaminated or infested produce allowed to enter the country.

5) EPA – This is an agency that has been targeted already by the Tea Party as one of several that they feel hurts businesses.  But there are some important things this agency does that keeps getting looked over.  First off, there would be fewer people to protect us from illegal toxic dumpers.  You know, those friendly truck drivers that can’t get to a landfill or other area to safely dispose of toxic waste.  So, we would probably have more “free range” toxic dumps. 

Secondly, there would be no one to help keep our water safe and clean, or our air fresh and breathable.  Also, who would keep on the oil industry in order to make sure any oil spills get cleaned up?

6) War on Drugs – With fewer DEA agents, there would be more drugs on the street. Also, we would have to take a serious look at all the people incarcerated for non-violent drug offenses and we would probably have to release hundreds of them back on the streets. But who cares about a few pills or joints when we’re saving money, right?

Ok, this is a just a couple of agencies that would be effected by a forty percent cut. There are obviously many more like the Department of Energy, Department of Education, and so on. Also, the Federal Government also gives money to the State and Local governments, so that money will be cut as well. That also means more State and Local employees like Firemen, Policemen, and Teachers are now out of work.

Now, another fallout of the cuts would be all of the federal, state, and local government employees and soldiers that are now out of work because of the cut in the size of government.

We are already in the middle of serious job crisis.  Now, we have just dumped nearly a million or more workers into the job pool.  Congratulations, you’ve just increased unemployment to around 15% and we have more people collecting unemployment benefits.

…uh, the government doesn’t have the money anymore for the people already collecting them….

That’s right, Unemployment Benefits just got cut by forty percent as well.

So now you have 15% unemployment and no benefits to help them.  More people will lose their homes.  Since all these newly unemployed people have less or even no money, local businesses will start to close since no one will be able to buy anything.  At this level, we will probably even see supermarkets and gas stations – staples of our local economies – closing en-mass.

So that will lead to even more unemployment…which means even less tax money to the Federal Government…which means more cuts will have to be made…which means more government workers laid off…which means more local businesses will close…

You get the picture now?

Let me get this statement out here now…

We can not just cut our way out of this financial crisis.  We need a balanced approach that includes some cuts and some revenue in order to keep our nation from falling apart.

If you know of a Tea Party member or a member of the “Cult of Norquist” that still says we can cut our way out of this crisis, have them read this and see how they feel now….


Frank Vicari

Frank Vicari