Basic Position: Deficits during economic downturns are okay, but they
should be balanced by surplusses during good economic times. It
is not the level of taxation but what is bought with the taxes
that matters. Much of our federal budget is wasted or not put
to its best use.
Overview: The National Budget is very complex, so first I will lay out some general principles, then I will give some specifics.
Our national debt means that every year taxpayers pay a significant sum just to pay the interest on this debt. Deficits add to the national debt and hence to the tax load. I think we should pare down the debt during good economic times.
When the Federal Reserve is mismanaged as it was during the late 1990's the result can be a sharp recession, as we saw from 2001 until late 2003. During such times the federal government should spend more money than usual on unemployment and on projects that create jobs. However, the Bush Administration with its Democratic and Republican allies in Congress spent vast sums of money on a counterproductive war against Iraq and on tax cuts for the super-rich. Now we have a large federal deficit even as the economy is getting back to normal.
When you pay taxes you should ask yourself: Am I getting something worthwhile for my money? Of course different people have different priorities. Here are mine:
Defense (military) spending. A million dollars worth of diplomacy could save us $100 Billion a year on military spending. I would seek to end the era of America's military being designed to project agressive forces beyond our borders. I would withdraw our troops from Europe, the Middle East, Korea, and Japan. I would see to it that U.S. forces remained more than adequate to defend the actual territories of the U.S. I would use some of the money saved to give bonusses to combat veterans and provide jobs and educational opportunities for decommissioned soldiers.
Agriculture: I would end all cash subsidies for agriculture. The mission of the Department of Agriculture should be to protect consumers, not subsidize corporations.
Education: I would increase money for education, creating as little bureaucracy, rules and regulations as is consistent with seeing that the money is spent effectively.
Transportation: Because we should be at peak population, I would redirect the current tranportation budget to repairing infrastructure rather than building new highways.
Corporate subsidies: I would end all business subsidies and special-interest business tax breaks.
National Health Care: I would create a national health care system that covered all Americans. This would be paid for in part by a tax on employers similar to the Social Security tax and in part by savings from reduced budgets for defense and agriculture.
The Environment: I would fully fund the Endangered Species Act and federal agencies that ensure clean water and air for us. I would encourage a program to conserve energy and shift to renewable forms of energy.
Space: I would turn space exploration over to hobbyists and businessmen. If a bunch of private individuals want to pony up the money for moon bases, that is fine with me, but your tax dollars should not be wasted on this. NASA should stick to the common good, like launching weather satellites.