I was angry and embarrassed to hear about the failure of the finance super committee. The group of six democrats and six republicans was tasked with reaching an agreement that would improve our federal budget by $1.2 trillion over ten years. In other words, from 2012 to 2021, the United States is projected to spend about $47 trillion, but only raise $40 trillion dollars in revenues. All this super committee had to do was close that $7 trillion gap by about 18%. I’d like to try to put this disgraceful failure into perspective.
Imagine you have a buddy – let’s call him Sam – who will make $40,000 at his job next year. Sam sits down to do his 2012 budget and realizes he is projected to spend $47,000. Sam has a problem, right? He’s going to spend $7,000 more than he is going to make made. If Sam doesn’t change something, he will have to borrow that money and he will be in debt to someone.
Now, imagine if you told Sam he had to find a way to fix just $1,200 of his $7,000 problem. He could reduce his spending by there cents for every dollar he will spend, he could find a way to make three percent more money, or he could do a little of both. Imagine you gave your friend the rest of 2011 to figure this out.
January rolls around and Sam tells you he could not figure out how to spend a penny less or earn a penny more next year. What would you think of him? Would you lend Sam money? Would you look at him as a leader?
Maybe I’m over simplifying the problem. I’m sure the U.S. deficit reduction negotiations are more complicated than convincing your friend to cancel his Netflix subscription and pick up a of couple extra hours at work each week. But we need to hold are leaders to a higher standard. Twelve congressmen should have solved this problem, and they couldn’t even reduce it.
I caught New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, on CNN news. He chastised the “cowardice and partisanship” of the senators and representatives of the super committee and the president. “Where’s the leadership?” he asked. Bloomberg talked about our founding fathers, men of principle, who were able to create the foundation of a great nation through leadership and compromise. Bloomberg said leaders must fight to get things done for our shared future.
They say necessity is the mother of innovation. Well, we need a new sense of leadership in America. We need brave new leaders who will fight to reinstate America as the envy of the world.
Note – all numbers taken from the Congressional Budget Office’s report from March 2011 viewable at http://www.cbo.gove/ftpdocs/120xx/doc12085/03-10-ReducingTheDeficit.pdf