It is beginning to dawn on our prodigal politicians that they cannot go on running up the national debt. Government spending is too high and growing too fast. Something simply must be done to reduce the deficit and stabilize the government's finances -- or the whole economy will collapse.
Congress is under intense pressure, therefore, to reduce the deficit, but not to cut back any government programs or projects. Most members don't really want to cut spending; they would rather increase taxes.
Thereby, they can deflate the deficit and still keep spending. Thus they avoid the political heat that comes from cutting someone's pet project.
The federal government, meanwhile, is in serious financial trouble. One way or the other, the taxpayers will have to bail it out. The government must raise taxes, cut its spending or print more dollars. A tax increase will come out of the taxpayers' pockets. A spending cut will reduce their government services. More dollars will decrease the value of the dollars they own.
But there is another simple, painless solution by which Congress can reduce the deficit on schedule -- indeed, it can double the reduction -- without increasing taxes. All Congress needs to do is slash government waste. This won't aggrieve anyone except the bureaucrats and beneficiaries who will have to give up some of their extravagances. But of course, these are the people who it doesn't want to irritate.
There is a conspiracy in Washington, therefore, to condition the taxpayers for a tax hike. They have been told there's no option to swallowing the bitter pill. For the federal spendthrifts want the public to believe that no pork is left in the budget.
As co-chairman of the Grace Commission, I can tell you this is a lie. Enough fat can be slashed, enough extravagance eliminated, to meet the scheduled deficit reductions without raising taxes.
Last year, President Reagan ordered the Office of Management and Budget to check how many of the commission's cost-cutting recommendations had been implemented and how much money had been saved. The OMB's conclusion: The Grace Commission has saved an astounding $69.5 billion.
This incredible savings reduced the deficit by 26 percent last fiscal year. Yet no just obligation went unpaid; no federal program was impaired. All that happened was that a few bureaucrats lost some promotions and privileges.
So the good news is that the commission has eliminated nearly $70 billion in waste from the federal budget. The bad news is that twice that amount of waste has been uncovered but still hasn't been eliminated.
The commission estimates that the federal government squanders an additional $100 billion. Footnote:
You can help fight government waste by urging your representative or senator to join the Grace Caucus, which is trying to implement the Grace Commission's recommendations. The caucus is headed by Rep. Beau Boulter (R-Tex.) and Buddy Roemer (D-La.); also Sens. Gordon J. Humphrey (R-N.H.) and Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.). They fear America is in mortal danger of an economic catastrophe if the government's finances aren't put in order.