I have been reading a lot of news articles this week regarding the efforts of businesses and the Republicans to “gut” the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Act. Since there is no upside to getting into a political argument, I will keep this discussion focused on money.
With the federal deficit for 2011 expected to be $1.65 trillion dollars, and the overall federal deficit expected to double to $20 trillion dollars by 2015, it is not surprising that fiscal restraint is finally on the agenda.
A number like $1.65 trillion doesn’t mean much to me other than it is a really big number. It starts to make a little more sense when you break it down into dollars per person. When you do the math, the deficit this year amounts to more than $5,000 for every man, woman, and child in the USA. Ouch!
Drastic measures are required to balance the books in America. It can’t be done overnight, but if steps are not taken NOW, the rest of the world will begin to treat the US dollar like play money.
Everyone has a different opinion about how to reduce the deficit. Some want to raise taxes, but those are a rare breed at the best of times, and virtually non-existent when economic times are tough. That leaves spending cuts.
We are witnessing proposed spending cuts to lots of things these days that are being hurried through the House to bring into law. Spending cuts are never easy, but some are more difficult to accept than others. It seems that busting unions, reducing expenditures on education, and jeopardizing safe drinking water are not the places to start.
At a time when America continues to face ongoing financial crisis, it just doesn’t make sense to me to destroy the things that make America great. The future depends upon education and jobs, and most important of all, safe water to drink and air to breath. Surely people can agree that the basic resources required to sustain life in America should be the main priority moving forward.
What does make sense when it comes to spending cuts?
It makes sense to me to look at three significant factors when it comes to spending cuts. First, it seems that we should be looking at the areas where the most money is spent, because spending cuts in those areas can produce the greatest savings. Second, it makes sense that the cuts should have the least amount of negative impact on Americans. Third, the cuts should not affect the health or safety of American citizens.
Cutting the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water budget by $947 million dollars will help save money, but at what cost? Reducing the budget of an organization that has been running on a shoe string for safe drinking water by 27% will have an enormous negative impact on the safe drinking water of American. The savings of nearly a billion dollars represents 1/1,650 of the deficit and American citizens will pay dearly for the savings.
According to Wikipedia:
“Defense-related expenditures outside of the Department of Defense constitute between $319 billion and $654 billion in additional spending, bringing the total for defense spending to between $1.01 and $1.35 trillion in fiscal year 2010.”
Is it just me, or doesn’t it seem strange to you that the range of spending on defense has a variation of $340 billion? Instead of “gutting” the Safe Drinking Water budget and leaving American citizens at risk, doesn’t it make more sense to reduce the defense budget by just one out of the $1.35 trillion? If they don’t even know how much the budget is because of the $340 variation, would they even miss it? Would the reduction of a billion dollars from a $1.35 trillion defense budget affect as many American citizens as a $billion dollar cut the EPA Safe Drinking Water budget?
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.