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,