Administration scares taxpayers to avoid budget cuts

Will President Obama’s sequester interrupt government services you depend on? The media runs alarmist stories about how average Americans will suffer if Uncle Sam has to pass up a fourth sticky bun for breakfast. Politicians often panic the public to keep the money flowing.

Washington is warning of three-hour delays at airports. Remember: Democrats insisted on requiring airport security screeners to be federal employees. So now you must support Democratic spending plans or else.

Since 2008, federal spending has increased by $800 billion per year. The looming sequester will shave off $100 billion per year. Washington will still be spending over $700 billion more every year than in 2008. So how would airport security be affected? Travelers could be fed lobster, caviar and champagne waiting in line. Federal spending was $2.9 trillion in 2008 and $3.7 trillion in 2012.

Of course, security could be de-coupled from the federal budget. A private fee on every airline ticket could fund airport security. But avoiding interruptions from Democratic agendas isn’t the goal.

Washington traditionally shuts down the passport office, national parks and the Washington Monument during a budget fight. But passport fees exceed $2 billion a year. Why would passport offices close? Why is taxpayer money involved?

I had my passport stolen at the Miami Boat Show. The U.S. State Department issued 13.1 million passports in 2012. At the minimum fee of $135, that is $1.8 billion. A $150 file search fee is added if you don’t have an officially-certified birth certificate lying around. That’s another $984 million if maybe half pay the search fee. If one-quarter pay a $60 expedited service fee, add $197 million. Is $2 billion to $3 billion in fees enough?

The Federal Aviation Administration’s air traffic control system could be funded by a ticket surcharge, no longer dependent on the federal budget or Washington politics. The U.S. Seaport Commission, which I led, proposed that all cargo security should be fully funded by a surcharge on imported products.

Seniors believe they paid for their Social Security benefits and Medicare. That is what politicians told them. So why are we spending taxpayer funds? Clearly, no one has paid for those entitlement benefits yet. That’s why those programs are draining the U.S. Treasury. The budget crisis exists because politicians lied.

The scam is that bureaucracies never cut the waste, only high-profile services to the public. When there is a budget crisis, politicians manipulate the public.

Three high-stakes showdowns are looming over the federal budget in March. The postponed “fiscal cliff” sequester will hit by March 1. But this time, it appears the GOP will allow the sequester to slow the exploding growth. We will see if the world ends after a relatively minor slowdown of federal spending.


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