The Apocalypse Plan: A Federal Budget Alternative

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You have plans, right? Plans for your future, for your kid's future. Some of you may even have plans if things go terribly wrong with the World, or the economy or even the political system. Do you have those plans in writing? Having them in your head is at least a start but when everything is happening, at breakneck speed, you may not be thinking as clearly as needed to recall, let alone implement those plans. Having them in writing gives you something to follow, at least a starting point when faced with rapidly changing events. That is the purpose of this Plan. To have a starting point, a plan to at least begin the process of dealing with whatever has finally broken the impasse to deal with our economic and federal spending issues.

The 2012 Republican Budget Resolution deals with departmental budgets and limitations and process/performance changes that will save money but it does not address individual programs. It states that:
Ultimately, the committees will be responsible for determining how to meet their reconciliation instructions. But savings could be achieved in the areas of making pensions for federal workers more like those for workers in the private sector, repealing recent expansions of the federal role in financial services, saving money in health care, means testing entitlements, and reforming the medical liability system.
Yes, leave it up to the committees that authorized the current mess to figure out what programs to cut, in the future but by 'capping' the spending, the Republicans are doing something meaningful about spending. What a plan.


It is said: that which can not go on, will not go on. Today, the Federal Government is borrowing about 43 cents for every dollar it spends. (The GOP is gleeful they are going to get it down to 20 cents over the next 20 years). If that doesn't bother you, maybe nothing will. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the numerical (in dollars) representation of all the goods and services produced in a country in a given year. Most people know the GDP as a measure of something about the economy but not a whole lot about what goes into it. One component of GDP is government spending:

Table 1: Historical Spending as % of GDP (000,000s)

Year GDP Fed Spending %
1988 5,482,000 1,278,658 23.32%
1994 7,839,000 1,768,130 22.56%
2002 10,642,000 2,482,207 23.32%
2005 12,623,000 3,055,421 24.21%
2006 13,377,000 3,322,443 24.84%
2007 14,029,000 3,479,703 24.80%
2008 14,369,000 3,765,009 26.20%
2009 13,939,000 4,397,024 31.54%
2010 14,527,000 4,595,911 31.64%
2011 15,094,000 4,752,185 31.48%

I thought the number was around 20-22% and that under Obama it had climbed to 24-25%. But when Barack Obama became President, government spending was already out of control, his actions have only accelerated the process. In 2011 the President's proposed budget was defeated in the Senate by 97-0. No one gave it serious consideration. Now in 2012, the Senate is ignoring the President's budget proposal, not even bothering with a vote.

Things are about to get much worse. The President's Budget expects GDP to grow much faster over the next 5 years than it has over the last 5 years: 23.46% vs 6.63%. If his spending projections over the next 5 years remain and the GDP only grows as fast as it has, then his future spending will hit 34.69%.

Table 2: Future Spending as Percentage of GDP (000,000s)
Year GDP Fed Spending %
2012 15,426,068 4,934,431 31.99%
2013 16,335,000 4,918,150 30.11%
2014 17,156,000 4,997,673 29.13%
2015 18,178,000 5,209,954 28.66%
2016 19,261,000 5,533,231 28.73%
GDP Growth 23.46%    
@ 6.63% in '16 15,950,000 5,533,231 34.69%

Over a third of the economy will be the federal government. And every penny of that spending will have to come from the production of the American people.

One of the main reasons the Tea Party movement has grown has been a strong anti-government spending sentiment. It provoked people into demanding that government spending, the Federal Government in particular, needs to be seriously addressed and cut. A lot of suggestions have been tossed into the arena, but they tend to be a blanket "get rid of Education [department, not activity!], Energy and the EPA" type of positions. But can we just 'get rid' of those departments? What if faced with an economic catastrophe, the Federal Government HAD to cut all non-essential programs and spending, what exactly would be left?

I am sure there is a plan. Someone has a plan. Right? The government always has a plan, but for it's own significant demise? There were taxes still on the books and being collected to offset costs of the Great War...before there was a World War II, as late as the 90s. I would modify the old saying: the only things certain in life are death and taxes, to note government programs seem to defy the 'death' part. If there is such a plan, it is hidden deep in a vault, probably somewhere in a deep desert where only one or two people know it exists.

I was one of the voices back in 2008 that argued against the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and it was one of the reasons I did not vote for John McCain (no, I did not vote for Obama either). For the last four years I have voiced my opinion on many things political and have been active in many of them, but on this topic - the federal government budget - I had been just one more voice in the masses calling for the same 'blanket eliminations'. I decided I needed to have more than just some slogans in the event we needed some real changes to the Federal Government, we needed a plan.

My criteria for keeping or getting rid of a program centers on the concept of a constitutionally limited federal government that is designed to address the needs of the states, not the individual citizens. I was not absolute in my application of these criteria because we have made certain promises that can't be broken but some can and laws can be changed to reflect the changes proposed.

I realize this plan would have almost no support in government to actually be implemented even in the face of 'what can't go on, won't go on'. It had to be a plan that would be turned to in the event of an apocalypse that people DEMANDED change and no one remembered that plan in the vault in the desert.

Important notes:

1. Most of the tables included were created by the author. Those that represent listings (federal funds, military deployments) are from US government sources available on the web. They include the GAO, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Census Bureau, Department of the Treasury, Department of Defense and the White House.

2. The Obama Budget details are from the Budget issued by the White House and posted on their website. While I assumed the figures were accurate, a review of actual spending in 2011 and budget appropriations (Department of Agriculture) showed some significant discrepancies. Not having a budget signed into law has given the government a greater latitude to spend than they should be allowed.

3. The program descriptions are directly from the department or program websites. In some cases, like Funds, the descriptions were from the 2011 Budget Justification documents available via the web.

4. Most of the table figures are in thousands (000s). Those that are not obvious are noted.

5. While portions of the spreadsheets used are included within, the complete files with all the calculations and figures are available from the author.

The rest of the book...well, hit the PURCHASE button!