A tax code with tens of thousands of pages. The huge defense budget. The complexities of Medicare and Social Security, plus a myriad of government programs for which Congress approves money on an annual basis . . . . All this – plus politics, of course -- helps explain why federal budgeting “isn’t for the faint of heart,” according to Phil Smith, The Concord Coalition’s political director.
But as he notes in a blog posting this week, many non-politicians have managed to discuss important choices about the federal budget with each other and arrive at reasonable compromises that would reduce projected federal deficits over the next decade by trillions of dollars. They’ve done so in “Principles and Priorities,” Concord’s flagship budget exercise.
In three recent programs in the Florida district of Rep. Rich Nugent, for example, nearly all of the 30 different groups of participants were able to reach agreement on budget plans that would cut deficits by an average of about $3 trillion over 10 years. Smith, who is also Concord’s Southern regional director, notes that the Republican congressman was impressed by the ability of the participants to reach consensus.
As Nugent pointed out in a statement afterward, these exercises can help clear up popular misconceptions about foreign aid and congressional earmarks. “I strongly believe,” he said, “that we need to scale back foreign aid -- particularly to these countries that don't like us -- but the truth is, foreign aid is also only about one percent of the budget and that isn't going to get us home . . . .”
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