Smoke, mirrors, and other hocus-pocus take center stage at U.S. deficit-reduction talks

By John Keller

Posted by John Keller

You gotta love some of the proposals tossed onto the table during the continuing deficit-reduction talks among members the U.S. Congress and the administration of President Barack Obama.

The latest proposal from the Senate's so-called "Gang of Six" senators from both parties seeks to make "$3.75 trillion in savings over 10 years" and "contains $1.2 trillion in new revenues."

First, predicting how Congress will spend money a decade in the future is like predicting the weather in 2086. Of the Democrat and Republican lawmakers who are trying to convince us now how they'll spend money in 10 years, well, many of them won't even be around then, so what do they care about commitments they make today?

If Congress were to approve such a scheme, they'll be able to hear the giggles in Washington from Kansas City. Some of those senators and representatives in 10 years will be out of office, some will be dead, a few might still be in Congress, but no one will remember by then. Long story short, 10-year spending plans in Congress are pure fantasy cooked up to placate important constituencies, and only for the time being.

If Congress is going to make meaningful cuts in federal spending, they have to do it now, this year, before the 2012 elections. Anything other than that is something akin to the guy staggering home with lipstick on his collar at 2 a.m., smelling of whiskey, and telling his wife that he was at a midnight mass.

You can't trust politicians to do two things: tell the truth, and not spend taxpayer money; it's just not in their makeup. History bears this out.

Second, I just love this government rhetoric about "new revenues." The word revenue means different things to different people. In the private sector, revenue means income that a company receives from its normal business activities, usually from the sale of goods and services to customers. More to the point, in private business revenue is earned. Not so in government.

In government, revenue refers to tax money confiscated from citizens. It's not earned, it's simply taken -- with or without the taxpayer's consent. So whenever you hear anyone in government talking about "new revenues," just substitute "tax hikes," and see how that proposal plays with you.

That's just the point, isn't it? The government is just playing with us. No wonder so many American citizens so fed up.

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The Mil & Aero Bloggers

John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

Ernesto Burden is the publisher of PennWell’s Aerospace & Defense Media Group, including Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence and Avionics Europe.  He’s a father of four, a runner, and an avid digital media enthusiast with a deep background in the intersection of media publishing, digital technology, and social media. He can be reached at ernestob@pennwell.com and on Twitter @aero_ernesto.

Courtney E. Howard, as executive editor, enjoys writing about all things electronics and avionics in PennWell’s burgeoning Aerospace and Defense Group, which encompasses Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence, the Avionics Europe conference, and much more. She’s also a self-proclaimed social-media maven, mil-aero nerd, and avid avionics geek. Connect with Courtney at Courtney@Pennwell.com, @coho on Twitter, and on LinkedIn.

Mil & Aero Magazine

December 2013
Volume 24, Issue 12
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