Governor Moonbeam Does It Again!
I don’t know how many of you remember the 1992 Democrat Presidential Primary Debates, but I would like to take you briefly back to that era. There were a bunch of candidates in that race…no particularly good ones, please understand…but what they lacked in political quality they made up for in sheer quantity. I remember watching one of the early debates on television. There were six or seven or eight men on the stage ranting, railing, and flailing their arms about as they disparaged the other candidates and, of course, President Bush (the first).
I don’t even remember the names of most of the candidates, but two stand out in my mind… Bill Clinton, who was governor of Arkansas and went on to win the race and the presidency, and Jerry Brown, then governor of California (also the current governor of California). Governor Brown, who had been elected, thrown out of office, and re-elected what seemed like several times, was well known nationally in the seventies and eighties as “Governor Moonbeam,” an unflattering sobriquet bestowed on him by columnist Mike Royko for his off-the-wall ideas and his pandering to the nontraditional element that seemed to dominate California society. He was initially laughed at as a presidential contender.
Against that backdrop, I was watching the debates, and I suddenly realized something surprising, even alarming. Of all the candidates being grilled by the moderator, Governor Moonbeam was making the most sense, offering the most plausible solutions to a variety of problems, and sounding as if he had the most solid platform on which to challenge the sitting president. I laughed at myself as the revelation sank in. What kind of crazy folks were these Democrats, that they would throw at us a bunch of oddballs of which Governor Jerry Moonbeam Brown was the obvious best choice? He lost the primary, of course, and drifted into national obscurity until taking the helm of the quickly sinking state of California once more.
I said all that to say this: Moonbeam offered up at least some very good advice in 1992, and he did the same thing just the other day. California, known to be a spendthrift, overindulgent, ultraliberal state with regard to social spending, lavish government retirement plans, and more, is broke! The state has a 16 billion dollar budget deficit, and Brown has offered up a plan that includes cuts including social programs, education, eldercare, and other before-thought-of-as-untouchable elements of state spending. The same programs in the federal budget are called “entitlements” and have been sold to us taxpayers as sacrosanct, untouchable elements of the federal budget. Moonbeam is showing us that those expensive programs have become to expensive to maintain, and he is recommending cuts that average about 20%! He is also recommending, actually begging voters to accept, tax increases. I haven’t seen suggested numbers yet, but I suspect the increase will be around 20%, just like the cuts.
So much for Moonbeam and California. What does all this mean to those of us who live in the real world? Our national problems are far worse, make that FAR worse, than those of California, for many reasons. High on the list is the fact that, unlike California, the Federal Government can print money, and print they are doing with no restraint! Obama Bernanke, and Geithner are churning out dollars so fast the printing presses are smokin’, and in the process are devaluing our currency, destroying our credit rating, and insuring the economy will be in the gutter for years to come. Can anything be done? Listen to Moonbeam. You won’t like it…I don’t like it, but I’m not sure there is an alternative. I am beginning to hear and read economists that are saying the nation has slipped so far into the abyss of depression, national debt, and extreme deficit spending, that there is no way to stop it. We must suffer the consequences of the destruction of our currency and the worldwide depression that would cause before we can rebuild. I don’t want to believe that. I would rather follow Moonbeam’s advice. As hard and harsh as it is, it is better than grinding to a worldwide economic halt and starting over from scratch.
What am I suggesting? It’s pretty simple. I don’t know why Governor Brown’s 20% number is so magical, but it works both for his state’s situation and for the national tragedy our politicians have thrust upon us. In simplest terms, here are the numbers:
Total Government Expenditures 3.8 Trillion Dollars
Total Tax Revenue 2.5 Trillion Dollars
Total Annual Deficit 1.3 Trillion Dollars
Suppose, like Governor Brown is proposing, we slash total expenditures by 20%. Then suppose we raise tax revenues by the same 20%. (Please don’t send hate mail or stop reading until you get to the end.)
Expenditures 3.8 Trillion – 760 Billion (20%) = 3.04 Trillion
Revenue 2.5 Trillion + 500 Billion (20%) = 3.00 Trillion
Total Annual Deficit 40 Billion
40 Billion deficit! That’s almost nothing! Throughout the late 1800′s, J.P. Morgan and a coalition of bankers loaned the Federal Government money on several occasions when the government couldn’t meet its obligations. That’s a story in itself, but I bring it up to say, tongue in cheek, that the fed could probably borrow the 40 billion from Bill Gates or someone.
I can hear the arguments brewing. Unfair! Massive unemployment! Riots as government handouts are reduced! Economic disaster! I concede the possibility of some of that happening, but I want to point out a little known fact to you. I don’t often hold up Bill Clinton for accolades, but he is due this one. President Bill wasn’t too fond of the military. During his administration, he literally decimated the United States military, reducing the size of the Army from 10 or 12 divisions to only 3 or 4. Same cuts for the other branches of service. Obviously, the same for the many civilian employees who supported those divisions or ran businesses near military bases. That’s a lot of suddenly unemployed people! You would think there would have been riots, massive spikes in unemployment, economic collapse, and so on. But here’s the thing. The reduction in military and other government spending was instrumental in bringing about a huge upturn in GNP, new jobs, and diminished dependency on welfare and other government social programs that it created an economic revival! Kudos for President Clinton! Maybe he learned that lesson from Moonbeam, or possibly it was the other way around.
Regarding the 20% increase in taxes, I, just like you, do not trust our current batch of politicians any further than I could throw them. I would not even consider allowing a tax increase of any kind until these Washington elitists curtail spending in a drastic way. No accounting tricks, no Washington two-step, just real, serious, severe, spending cuts, even worse than those Moonbeam is suggesting, since our problem is much worse. Once they do that, then I will consider allowing higher taxes for a limited time until the problem is solved. My guess is that the spending cuts would trigger such an economic boom town that tax revenues will increase drastically through employment gains, making rate increases unnecessary, but I’m willing to allow them their greedy rate increases under very specific conditions and for a very specific amount of time.
I suggest this ‘cut and tax’ legislation be written up by citizens, not the denizens of the halls of Congress. In fact, I suspect a very knowledgeable group could be chosen from within the ranks of readers of The Daily Pamphlet. When the bill is complete, I suggest it be sealed into an envelope and sent to Congress with the instructions that they could not see what was in it until they had voted on it. That seems to be the way they work nowadays. It’s a pretty basic idea…20% on both sides of the equation. Thanks, Moonbeam, for the idea, and thanks, Slick Willie, for showing us that it might really work!
Now that you have read the entire proposal, it’s okay to send hate mail if you so desire. It’s drastic, but it’s drastic for all of us. The devil is in the details, of course, and I foresee the current batch of congressmen arguing for decades over such a proposal. Maybe that means step one is to clean house in D.C. and start from scratch with a more trustworthy and less jaded bunch.