Economists recognize that there are times when deficit spending may be required. During times of war or national emergency, deficit spending can be essential. But to overspend year in and year out is terrible fiscal policy. Why should we forget that it is our money the Federal government spends so freely?

There are many very worthy expenditures and programs. Some, like the Social Security Program and Medicare, provide important services and fulfill promises made to the American people.  Some expenditures cannot be predicted, like those due to natural disasters, but are necessary when they arise.

Our government’s spending addiction appears rooted in the belief that there is an endless supply of money – the money we pay in the form of taxes. We have enabled our government to spend without a thought of consequence. And while some Federal programs serve vital needs, often funds are wasted on senseless or outdated programs. As an example, we spend $15 million training cashiers for Walmart – IN MEXICO!  Did you know you are the proud owner of a share in an clown school? Yes, taxpayers spent over $300,000 in support of an ARGENTINIAN CLOWN SCHOOL.  And let us not forget the $170,000 we spent to build trails in national parks – IN RUSSIA. The list would be funny were it not true.

Imagine if that money had been directed to a needed program, like updating the flood control systems here in Harris County. Because our government had no spending discipline, our infrastructure was ill-prepared for the storm that caused such harm to our community.

Congress seems to lack the will to end any program, even when elimination is the right answer. We should never be afraid to close an agency if it is no longer serving the public good.

We need to be more frugal as a nation and realize our dollars cannot solve the rest of the world’s problems. First, we must fix our problems here at home. We should aim to have no new programs until old programs and waste are controlled. Federal agencies should not be rewarded for a year-end spending frenzy by the allocation of more funds in the next fiscal year. We should end these automatic “raises” that promote waste!

One wasteful system I propose to address to help balance our budget is our VA hospital system. Our VA system wastes money while delivering substandard care, failing the public and our brave veterans. By reforming the VA so that it treats a sharply defined set of problems and allows veterans to receive routine care in other facilities – at no additional cost to veterans – we could save a great deal of money while delivering better care.

Our budget needs a dose of common sense to cure our spending addiction.