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  • Six Easy Steps to Reducing $1 Trillion of National Debt

Six Easy Steps to Reducing $1 Trillion of National Debt

William L. Kovacs

February 2022

Six Easy Steps to Reducing $1 Trillion of National Debt

Americans are obsessed with weight loss but generally, they are getting heavier each year. The same is true for an obese federal budget. Congress pontificates about reducing our massive national debt of $30 trillion but each year it gets bigger. Books don’t help one lose weight, only by reducing food intake can weight be lost. The same is true for budgets. Bloviating against the national debt on cable TV will not reduce debt. Only by cutting programs and reducing laws can the nation reduce the national debt.

In 2021 our federal government spent $ 6.82 trillion in a $ 22.4 trillion economy. Simply, 30% of all economic activity in the U.S. is federal spending.  Another $3.3 trillion was spent by state and local governments. Forty-five percent of our entire economy is government spending. The Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) informed Congress the growth of the national debt is unsustainable and a risk to our future. It’s now time to stop spending and start reducing the nation’s debt to ensure a sustainable nation for our children.

Marana Six easy steps to taking $ 1 trillion annually off the federal spending scale

  1. Jevargi Do not fund laws that have not been authorized. The easiest set of budget cuts would be to refrain from funding laws that Congress has not authorized. “In FY 2021 appropriations, the Congressional Budget Office identified 1,068 authorizations of appropriations, stemming from 274 laws, tolling $432 billion, that expired before the beginning of the fiscal year 2022.” Since House Rules prohibit such appropriations, it should be an easy savings of almost one-half trillion dollars.
  2. buy antabuse australia Review and vote on every expenditure of the Judgment Fund. The Judgment Fund is the mother of all slush funds. It is a permanent, indefinite, and unlimited congressional appropriation continuously available to pay money judgments entered against the United States and settlements of cases in or likely to be in litigation with the United States. As an indefinite appropriation, it is so secret that Congress no longer even debates what the amounts are for. The amounts are appropriated, no matter what the amount. The Department of the Treasury just pays the claims upon the receipt of paperwork. This is the fund that President Obama used to deliver $1.7 billion in cash, to Iran as a bribe to sign the Iran nuclear deal. Why should our government officials have billions in a secret fund to cover up illegal activity? Having Congress approve each judgment and settlement as it did before 1956, the U.S. could save taxpayers tens of billions of dollars by rejecting settlements the executive branch makes with its friends.
  3. Enact a fair, simple, tax code that focuses on raising money not legislating behavior. Another easy way to reduce the deficit is to get rid of the 8-million-word tax code and replace it with the 1913- four-page Form 1040. Few deductions and low rates, but everyone pays something, including the wealthiest. The benefit of this simple approach is it captures a greater amount of tax owed by closing the Tax Gap.  The IRS defines the tax gap as the difference between true taxes owed for a given tax year and the amount that is paid. The gap is caused by the under-reporting of income, non-filing, and tax evasion. While the exact amount is unknown, the IRS estimates it to range from $574 to $700 billion, annually. A complex tax code invites under-reporting and manipulation, whereas failing to pay taxes in a simple system, could easily place one in a position of defending a fraud or tax evasion charge.
  4. Follow and implement GAO’s Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (“GAAP”). Congress mandates GAO to perform a GAAP analysis of federal spending and assets and provide recommendations to ensure the financial reporting by the agency is transparent and consistent. Every member of Congress should read these reports on how our money is managed and should implement its findings. One specific GAO recommendation is for the federal government to address the government-wide improper payments, estimated to be $175 billion.
  5. Congress should make a kitchen-table list of what programs are most important to our Republic. The amount of information available to Congress for making smart debt reduction decisions is overwhelming. It is time Congress puts these materials to use. A simple way to approach this task would be for each congressional committee to rank sequentially each program within its jurisdiction, with the most important programs having the lowest number. The budget committee would still allocate a budget for appropriations and the highest-priority programs will be funded first. The appropriation committees would work down the list until the revenue raised by taxes are expended. At that point, Congress would have to cease spending money on programs for which there is no longer any funding, e.g., studies of shrimp on a treadmill, or admit to the taxpayers, it wants to borrow money to fund programs of little value. This kitchen-table process of spending only up to revenues received could save another $1plus-trillion annually, even if Congress expended a few hundred billion on some lower value programs.
  6. Government must operate only for the public purpose. The issue of Congress giving away our money to private entities has been debated since the founding of the Republic. Opponents of giveaways argue taxpayer money can only be spent on matters enumerated in the Constitution. The government asserts it can spend taxpayer money on anything that promotes the general welfare. Continuing this debate is irrelevant since the courts have made it clear legislatures determine what is general welfare. Such a broad interpretation of governments’ ability to tax and spend has resulted in a massive increase in the national debt and a huge expansion of government.

To reduce spending, Congress must appropriate our money for matters that truly benefit the nation while preventing the direct redistribution of wealth to strictly private enterprises that wield influence in government?

The business-as-usual giveaway model is illustrated by the 2020 fiscal year appropriations which resurrected from the grave, billions of dollars in expired tax extenders and spread the benefits to distilleries, race-horses, and Nascar owners, short-line railroad, biodiesel blenders, and other favored industries. The tax credits were even made retroactive. The purchasers of the first 200,000 electric vehicles received up to a $7,500 tax break. Investors in Opportunity Zones received tax deferment on capital gains from for their investment in high-end apartments with yoga lawns and pools surrounded by cabanas and daybeds. Opportunity Zones were to benefit poor areas. The $350 billion dollars a year prescription drug industry benefitted from $64 billion in federal research funding. Flood insurance subsidies continued for beachfront property, notwithstanding that the program has $25 billion in losses, it is potentially liable for $1.24 trillion in claims while only collecting $3.5 billion in annual premiums.

While there is almost no limit to governments’ power to give away taxpayers’ money, there are historical precedents for limiting such gifts. In the mid-1800s, many municipalities and states used public funds to purchase stock in railroads being built across the continent. Many government entities were swindled out of large amounts of money. To prevent future losses, forty-six states enacted constitutional limitations preventing gifts to private entities. These restrictions were called “gift clauses” or “anti-donation” clauses or simply “government gift-prohibitions.

The government gift-prohibition policies barred state and local governments from giving or loaning public funds to private corporations or associations for private undertakings. Initially, these provisions stopped government speculation with taxpayer money. With a $30 trillion national debt, Congress should enact the wise policies of the mid-1800s by prohibiting gifts, grants, loans, or the extension of the public’s credit to any private corporation, association, or private undertaking.

Such an action would serve to establish Congress as a fiduciary of the taxpayers’ money.

A few modest proposals for reducing the national debt. Is anyone in Congress willing to take up reducing the national debt challenge?

 

William L. Kovacs has served as senior vice-president for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, chief-counsel to a congressional committee, a partner in law D.C. law firms, and his book Reform the Kakistocracy is the winner of the 2021 Independent Press Award for Political/Social Change. His second book, The Left’s Little Red Book on Forming a New Green Republic, quotes from the Left on how to control society by eliminating capitalism, people, and truth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Rs on House Oversight: Tools to Guard the Republic Now & 2023

Rs on House Oversight: Tools to Guard the Republic Now & 2023

William L. Kovacs

February 2022

Rs on House Oversight: Tools to Guard the Republic Now & 2023

The House Republicans act as if they are powerless to resist the Biden, Pelosi & Squad insanity infecting our government. Republicans’ mumble nothing can be done until we regain the majority in the House in 2023. That thinking is a false negative in Covid jargon. House Republicans on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee (“OGR”), even as a minority, have subpoena power and the ability to start organizing now so that on January 3, 2023, the committee can start swearing in witnesses. It is foolish to waste the next ten months being depressed.

Effective action by non-legislative committees looking into out-of-control spending and government mismanagement goes back decades along with the right of the minority on the OGR to issue subpoenas.

With a $ 30 trillion national debt, an open southern border, consistently confusing and changing vaccine mandates, and what might be another war or just another foreign policy embarrassment, the likely Republican House in 2023, has the proverbial “golden opportunity” to put on the performance of a lifetime. The show is called “Oversight.” History has given the OGR a script and the tools needed to reduce non-essential federal expenditures, root-out corruption, and foster Federalism as our Founders intended. All that is needed is serious planning and a few early subpoenas.

Government mismanagement all starts with spending too much money. Since 2016 the ratio of debt to GDP in the U.S. has ranged from 105% – to 129%. The last time Congress found itself with a national debt exceeding its Gross National Product was the World War II-era when the debt to GDP ratio ranged between 103% – 119%. Today every household in the U.S. owes $223,000 as of its share of the national debt.

Unless Congress accepts our children living in involuntary servitude to the federal government, it must immediately address the issue. To address the rising national debt caused by World War II, Congress created the “Joint Committee on Reduction of Non-Essential Federal Expenditures” (“Joint Committee”), which existed from 1941-1974. Its purpose was to “make a full and complete study and investigation of all expenditures of the federal government with a view to recommending the elimination or reduction of all such expenditures deemed by the joint committee to be non-essential.”

While the Joint Committee lacked legislative authority, it took its investigative role seriously. It recommended eliminating many New Deal programs such as Regional Agriculture Corporations, Government Corporations, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the National Youth Administration. During its years of operation, our national debt declined from 119% of GDP in 1946 to 31% in 1974. By keeping the focus on the nation’s debt and recommending the elimination of non-essential programs, Congress brought the nation back to fiscal sanity.

In the 1960s, Congress began a series of legislative reorganizations that culminated in 1974 with the enactment of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act which eliminated the Joint Committee. Some of the Joint Committee functions were transferred to the newly created Congressional Budget Office, (“CBO)”. The remaining responsibilities were transferred to the existing OGR.

The CBO now provides Congress with nonpartisan analysis on budget and economic matters. In addition to producing 600 to 800 formal cost estimates each year, it also provides thousands of pages of advice on legislative proposals amendments. It publishes numerous reports on the budget and the economy. CBO helps Congress understand the economic and budget impacts of its decisions.

The OGR, however, was given very special powers to oversee the Executive branch. House Rules made it the primary investigative Committee in the House of Representatives. It was given authority to investigate “any matter” within the jurisdiction of the other standing House Committees, including the workings of government agencies. To ensure it can secure the information needed, OGR has the authority to issue subpoenas to compel witnesses to testify and produce documents. Even the minority on OGR have subpoena power upon the request of seven members of the Committee. The D.C. Circuit recently upheld the use of this power by the minority.

Additionally, House Rule X, Clause 4 requires OGR to receive and examine reports from the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”), the congressional watchdog over agency activity. GAO examines the operations of all government agencies and issues about 900 reports annually on most aspects of the operations of government.

OGR is also responsible for reviewing the federal/state relationship to ensure it works in a coordinated, constitutional manner. The combination of investigative powers over the entire federal government, a mandate to review GAO reports on government operations, access to the CBO for advice on budget and economic issues, and a mandate to ensure federalism functions constitutionally gives OGR a unique role in protecting our Republic.

Unfortunately, Republicans’ oversight activities have been superficial, at best, for decades. The best example of Republican oversight malpractice is its willingness to deem unauthorized laws authorized to avoid reviewing the effectiveness of the laws and reauthorizing them. In FY 2021 Congress appropriated about $432 billion for 1,068 programs whose authorizations of appropriations had expired. Not one member of the House objected to this legislative scam. The same lack of oversight is endemic with regard to the budget and national debt. Congress has the increases on autopilot. There may be a few hearings and critical words spoken, but the increases always are enacted.

Illegal immigrants are costing taxpayers billions each month since the President is unwilling to enforce immigration and labor laws. Republicans complain, but there is no attempt to use their spending or subpoena powers to stop the president’s illegal activity.

And then there is the total disrespect for Federalism and the sovereignty of states, as illustrated by a President who denies states like Florida lifesaving monoclonal antibodies needed to treat Covid patients. Or a president that opens an entire southern border and burdens the states of Texas, Florida, and Arizona with responsibility for the financial, health, and law enforcement burdens of illegal immigrants, drug dealers, overdose deaths, an increase in crime, and destroyed property.

Why is the Republican minority on OGR so fearful of using its subpoena power to at least get the information on these many questionable activities today, as preparation for January 3, 2023?

If there was ever a time when this nation needs Congress to focus on oversight of the federal government, it is now. The Joint Committee may be gone, but OGR is here in its place. OGR, with access to CBO, GAO, having subpoena power, and the ability to investigate any federal agency and send the results of the investigation to the appropriate legislative committees has far more resources to identify and eliminate the non-essential functions of the federal government than the Joint Committee.

Impossible, some may say, Congress can never get control of the Executive branch. It is just too powerful. Nonsense, one House of Congress, smartly using its power of the purse, can merely refuse to spend money. There is no power in the Constitution or on earth to force Congress to spend money when this occurs. One House of Congress alone can stop the federal government’s rush to policy insanity.

The minority on House OGR should not wait until it is in the majority in January 2023 to start its investigations, research, and planning. Using its subpoena power today will allow it to develop some of the information needed for a solid plan of oversight in 2023. If a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, it is time for the Republicans to start walking.

 

William L. Kovacs has served as senior vice-president for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, chief-counsel to a congressional committee, a partner in law D.C. law firms, and his book Reform the Kakistocracy is the winner of the 2021 Independent Press Award for Political/Social Change. His second book, The Left’s Little Red Book on Forming a New Green Republic, quotes from the Left on how to control society by eliminating capitalism, people, and truth.

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  • Restructuring Must Include Everything the Kakistocrats Manage

Restructuring Must Include Everything the Kakistocrats Manage

William L. Kovacs

June 2019

Restructuring Must Include Everything the Kakistocrats Manage

Complex societies collapse. Massively indebted nations collapse.  Countries with their military deployed throughout the world collapse.  Highly regulated states collapse. Governments that are torn by distrust and hatred between various groups of its people collapse. The United States is all of these risks combined and the kakistocrats, contently sitting on the bubble, claim they are addressing these risks.

The kakistocrats delude themselves that it can’t happen here.  It has happened to every major empire in the history of the world. Sometimes the collapse happens by war. Other times, by nature. Sometimes it happens by political decisions made to harm an opponent. As long as these many risks continue to linger our country is exposed to significant harm that could last decades or centuries.

We need only to look at the history books to appreciate this lesson. The world power centers of the 16th century include the Aztec, Inca, Ottoman, Persian, Mogul, and Ming empires. In the 1750s the European Colonial empires included the Portuguese, French, Spanish, British, Danish and Russian empires. In the 19th century, the great empires were French, Spanish, Austrian, and Russian. All these countries were diminished by war, excessive centralization, debt, or a failure to adapt technology to changing times.

Like all empires before us, our society will live with the risk perhaps for decades but then some sudden event will force dramatic change, and the kakistocracy will be helpless to address it.  At that point, the entire society goes into the abyss.  Once in the abyss, it can take centuries to reemerge from the darkness as chaos rules.

To quote the introduction of my book, “There are times in the history of nations when the citizens of the nation need to act before those entrusted with the control and resources of the nation cause it harm.”  Now is the time for action!  We must immediately demand that the kakistocrats act as fiduciaries, not politicians, and address the structural risks to our nation. 

What would be sufficient structural reform of our government?  Everything must be analyzed as if they were putting a puzzle together: taxes, spending, the sale of assets, elimination of excessive laws and regulations and the devolution of programs to the states when the states are more capable of implementing them than the federal government.  Entities facing systemic risks do this all the time. It is now time for the kakistocracy to do it for the nation. The federal government has undertaken successful but very limited, restructurings many times, e.g. the reorganization of the Penn Central Railroad into Conrail to preserve commerce in the eastern parts of the nation; reorganizing New York City and Chrysler Corporation to prevent bankruptcy and in 2009 the bailout and restructuring of the nation’s banking industry to prevent financial collapse.

It is now time to restructure a government that has not restrained itself since World War II. Massive amounts of debt and hundreds of thousands of laws and regulations are on the books, regulating everything from national defense and the conduct of war to the treatment of animals. The federal government owns thirty percent of the nation’s land and does not have anywhere near the cash needed even to maintain the structures it built, let alone develop more technologically advanced ones to compete in the world. Paying to sustain this massive structure is a printing press that prints dollars as long as it has ink.  We have a tax system that has been captured by special interests since the first time it was amended by Congress in 1918. 

Starting the reorganization begins with a simple question – What do we want our nation to look like in 10, 20, or even 50 years? If we continue on our present path, the view of the future is burdened with debt, centralization of government and conflict within society. If these issues remain unaddressed, we will not be a functioning nation for long. I assume not even the kakistocracy wants to face that bleak outcome, which is what we will get if we do nothing.

The restructuring process must all start with the federal government recognizing it is not capable of managing, and cannot afford, the massive government it has created. It must immediately identify essential programs and fund those programs to the extent of available revenues. If borrowing must occur, then it must only be for the essential programs.

Concurrent with prioritizing spending, Congress must review every program in the federal government and repeal all non-essential federal programs or devolve programs essential to the states to the states.

Next, the kakistocracy must compile a list of real assets (e.g., buildings, land, and mineral rights). Again, the assets should be prioritized, and only the assets needed for running the nation should be kept. Low priority assets should be sold, and the proceeds used to pay off the nation’s debt.

Every federal program that gives, grants, loans or subsidizes private entities should be quickly eliminated.

Even after completing this right-sizing trauma, the restructuring will only be just beginning. The kakistocracy will still need to address social security, reducing health care costs by twenty – five percent, and developing a tax system that eliminates complexity, unfairness and tax-avoidance schemes while collecting sufficient revenues to run the government. For suggestions on how to accomplish these changes see Part IV of my book.

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