The Importance of a Balanced Budget

(I plan to promote all diaries written by Democratic candidates in Iowa to the front page. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

At one point in my career of working with nonprofit organizations, I estimated having assembled and submitted close to 2,000 grant applications.  Through this process, I learned some important lessons that have helped prepare me for service in Congress.

For example, many larger grant-making foundations require applicants to have a balanced budget.  Some want balanced budgets for the last two or three years.  Based on my experiences with hospitals and nursing homes as well as with schools and colleges, prior to seeking significant community support, these organizations must first demonstrate that their financial operations are on solid footing.  And yes, this means at a minimum, a balanced budget.  

Why is this important?  As one foundation executive director explained, “We know if an organization outspends its income, the day is out there when the bills will come due.  Organizations paying off past bills restrict future possibilities.  We prefer to support organizations with no such limitations.”

While I realize there’s a difference between the federal government and a community-based nonprofit organization, the wisdom expressed by this foundation leader still rings true.  In many cases, however, I fear the future we’re restricting by our federal deficit belongs not to the current generation of tax-paying citizens but rather to our children, perhaps even our grandchildren.  

We cannot limit opportunities available to future generations by our budget-busting habits or by our equally disturbing habit of granting tax breaks to those with the ability to shoulder more of the cost of government.  For the last eight years, the Bush administration has engaged in the worst form of “faith-based economics” – budgeting in the hope that a rising tide of economic growth would somehow avoid staggering deficits.  Obviously it hasn’t worked.

We can and we must do a better job of aligning federal income with federal expenditures and bring an end to this huge wave of Bush deficits.  It will be a top priority of mine in Congress beginning next January.

More again soon,

Kurt Meyer  

  • Pretty Vague

    Can you be more specific?  Which is more urgent: increasing taxes or cutting spending?  Which taxes would you increase and which spending would you cut?

    • Priorities

      I’m not sure it’s necessary to specify, honestly.  A candidate who says “I’m going to increase taxes” or “I’m going to increase spending” is missing the point.  It’s really an issue of examining what our priorities are and addressing those without spending money we don’t have.

      If we have a massive list of priorities that need funding and we don’t have the money, then it would seem rational to raise taxes.  If we have a deficit because we are spending money on things that aren’t really aligned with our priorities, then we should cut those expenditures.

      The problem with those who put us in debt is that they weren’t actually looking at the entire budget to figure out what spending would match our priorities, and then proceeded to make tax cuts a priority.  I really don’t want to see the type of politician in charge who puts the cart before the horse like that, and so I’m perfectly fine with Kurt not saying “cut spending” or “increase taxes.”  That’s the sort of decision that should be based on the facts before us and in consultation with his colleagues and constituents.

      The important thing is that he thinks it’s important to not dump the burden of our decisions on future generations.

      • What a crock!

        You’d make a good “politician” yourself!

        Look, abkad, we are his constituents; the facts are before us right now.  All your “if  …, then…” statements get us precisely NOWHERE!  

        So answer your own questions–or better yet get Mr. Kurt to come back to his diary and answer them himself:  Do we have priorities that need to be funded, or not?  Are we spending money on things that aren’t really aligned with our priorities, or not?

        Is this man running for Congress, … or not?  Cardboard candidate, indeed!

        • What would you like him to do?

          Do you want Kurt give you an answer for every piece of good spending or waste in the budget?  

          Do you want him to give you one broad, oversimplified answer that ignores the multitude of items in the budget?  

          Or do you want someone who says that balancing the budget itself is a key issue and that he will look at the facts and listen to constituents to make a decision on how that should be accomplished?

          I would hope that every one of the candidates would offer up the latter, and for all I know, they do.  Ideally, they could all give us an answer for every item on the budget, but this simply isn’t realistic for any candidate to do with limited staff in the midst of campaigning.  However, if you can show me any of the other three candidates have done so, I’ll gladly support them.

          Whether it’s Greenwald, Meyers, Miskell, or Meyer, I want to see a candidate elected who will actually listen to constituents, unlike Latham.  Isn’t it better for a candidate to have an open mind rather than to tell you that he or she has come to a decision and is going to keeping marching whether or not it’s the wrong path?

          And, what’s wrong with simply saying “Unlike Tom Latham and his colleagues, I believe balancing the budget is important”?  It’s a no-brainer, but Latham didn’t make it a priority.  Obviously, it still needs to be said.  

          If you want Kurt, or any of the candidates, to take a specific action, why don’t you tell them what it is that you would like to see happen?  Send them all a letter or an email, tell them what you want them to do and why, and you’ll have much more impact on their policies than if you only ask them where they already stand.

          So, let’s start giving our input:

          What is it that you want our next Representative to do to balance the budget?  

          If you feel like any candidate has come up with a particularly good idea on this subject, what was that idea?

          • Kurt started this!

            I’m just asking why he started a topic he apparently doesn’t want to dwell on.

            Personally I’d cut military spending.  Why do we even need airplanes that can refuel in the air?  Or a new generation of nuclear weapons?  Or anti-missle missles?

            And we should raise taxes on top income brackets.  We must hold on to a strong estate tax.  Raise the cap on social security taxes.

            Or, alternatively, adopt Gore’s carbon tax instead of payroll taxes.  Or adopt Senator Wyden’s tax bill, which ends special rates for capital gains.

            See, that’s not too hard.  Be specific about something besides motherhood, apple pie, and balanced budgets.

            • Seem like good ideas to me

              Hey, I don’t know as much about some of those things as others, but they tend to sound like good ideas to me.  I’d like to hear what any of the candidates thought of them.

              I guess my point was just that saying that a balanced budget is necessary is certainly not a bad thing by itself.  I would hope all of the candidates would agree that it’s important, because it is something Latham has let us down on.

              I’m not sure where you’re at in Iowa, or if you’re even in the district, but there are some forums coming up on the 18th and the 28th.  I know the later one is in Ames, because it’s just a couple of blocks from me.  I’m not completely clear on the first one, but it’s somewhere in Northern Iowa.  If you’re around, that would probably be a great time to bring those things up with all of the candidates.  I know I’d like to see military spending, or at least what we’re spending in Iraq, reduced.

  • Promise

    I promise to personally respond to this in the next week or two.  I am running this campaign completely on my own, getting 3-4 hours of sleep a night, knocking on doors all day, and on the phone all night.

    We do need someone who has fresh ideas.  Yes there are many other members who must agree and many of them have ideas of their own.  

    Someone who can take ideas into office with them is who we want, not another rubber stamp.

    I will present my ideas for change and promote my experience as soon as I can catch up on some rest.  

    As always, I am writing this myself, and not enabling some young staffer to do so.

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