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February 7, 2014

In Your Opinion: We need clarity on federal budget expenses

The Daily Star

---- — Our biggest problem in solving the deficit and debt is that we bury the programs and related numbers, making it difficult for anyone who would look at them with hope of some kind of understanding. 

The specifically funded programs such as Social Security and Medicare should be presented separately from the programs not specifically funded. Most of the deficit and borrowing are for Social Security and Medicare. Somewhere over 50 percent of the budget deficit is attributed to the shortfall in these programs. 

By properly matching income and outlays,  it will become obvious what programs and to what extent, are contributing to the deficit. 

Programs such as defense and Medicaid, which are paid out of general funds, should be broken out of the general presentation. Defense is an original program in the original Constitution as written; Medicaid is a relatively new program that does not have any specific funding in the national budget. The Affordable Health Care direct cost is in the Medicaid program and therefore is buried and not easily seen as to the specific cost. 

In other words, the deficit should be broken down and matched to the specific programs. Then it will become obvious which programs are the most costly and most in need of help. 

Politically, it is easy and also misleading to speak of the national debt in general terms that the public cannot understand and can be easily led to the political view being presented to them. How can the budget be properly balanced if it cannot be properly analyzed to begin with? The present national debt of $17 trillion is increasing wildly without any immediate concern. The national debt should be about 40 percent of the gross domestic product, or GDP, but now is over 100 percent. 

Louis W. Nicholson

Fly Creek