Does anyone comprehend the enormous amounts of money involved in the federal government? Specific program price tags measured in millions, deficit numbers measured in billions, wartime spending measured in trillions… The other day I heard that our national debt is reaching $100,000,000,000,000. That’s 14 zeros, folks: one hundred trillion dollars. Can you wrap your mind around that number?
Today’s Washington Post has the lowdown on the new federal budget as well as graphics for the budget conscious: Spending Categories; Receipts and Outlays; Deficit Projections; and Budget Cuts. Predictable, I am drawn to the budget cuts, as this is easier for my under-educated mind to grasp. As a former victim of Chicago Public Schools, I understand intimately how under-funding public schools can predispose a life for decades. True to course, Education is again trimmed, to the tune of over $4 billion. Hardest hit is the High School program which stands to loose just under half the total educational funding cuts this time around. It’s interesting to note that all of the 2005 fiscal money is being eliminated for the High Schools. Higher education programs have been hit, too.
Here I refrain from a quip about teenagers without either college or employment prospects being eminently suitable for the military. But I didn’t say that…
In the Major Reductions category, the Agriculture Department is taking a pounding. Programs like Rural Business Investments and Rural Firefighter Grants get trimmed. This puts in mind a recent complaint from my rural republican friends about how too much state money is going to projects in Chicago instead of “downstate” (which in Illinois means anywhere else). Looking at the agriculture numbers, I see a Reagan-esque trickle down effect in action. Food is just not in the priorities of our government these days.
Scrolling down the list of DoA reductions, I note the Renewable Energy category is loosing all of 2005’s $23 million. Conservation options get skimmed. The EPA, along with specific programs such as Farmland Protection, Conservation Operations, Wildlife Habitat Incentives, and Forest Service Fire Management get hit.
I could go on all night. The list is incontrovertible evidence of the priorities of an embattled presidency and a nervous congress. The real question is: How much do these numbers reflect your priorities. Lest we forget, the Washington Elite Society is supposed to be invested with our interests in the forefront of their decision making. As the voting season approaches, ask yourself if your interests are being served, or if a change is in the political climate.