The frustration with our deficit and spending is that we focus on the legislature. Massive spending cuts must come from the top down. Elected representatives are judged by the spending they bring to their districts, not by their efforts to bring fiscal restraint to the process.
A single representative can do little for the entire budget by exercising restraint. The other representatives will just take advantage and bring home a bigger piece of the pie to their districts. Kudos to Senator Rand Paul for returning $500,000 of funds allocated to his office and staff. It is a rarity, but a move that shows real leadership by example.
Then Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana changed the paradigm. After he wrestled the deficit to a surplus, and after he established a rainy day fund of at least 10% of the following year’s budget he established a precedent that the rest would be returned pro rata to the taxpayers.
Once the first taxpayer rebate has been paid, no matter how menial, the expectation is that the budget will be responsibly handled. Now the tax payer has a reasonable and quick measurement of the work of their representatives. Instead of being bribed with monuments and museums and government bread and circuses, the taxpayers will benefit from responsible government.
Of course the first obstacle is making the cuts necessary to restore fiscal sanity. Governor Daniels has provided that important element of leadership. Few others, especially our president, has been equal to the task.
The focus of the administration to raise taxes on any segment is ineffective and counterproductive. It is also a distraction to avoid the more important and difficult task of making the more necessary and important cuts.