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Be Afraid of the Following: “We’re with the government. We’re here to help.”

March 7, 2012

Small sacrifices can pay off big

This graph is going in the wrong direction.

This past year, U.S. Senator Tom Coburn released a new oversight report titled “Wastebook 2011” in which he highlighted more than $6.5 billion of wasteful government spending. Some of the highlights include:

• $75,000 to promote awareness about the role Michigan plays in producing Christmas trees and poinsettias

• $15.3 million for a “bridge to nowhere” in Alaska

• $113,227 for a video game preservation center in New York

• $350,000 to support an international art exhibit in Venice, Italy

• $10 million for a remake of “Sesame Street” for Pakistan

• $35 million allocated for political party conventions later this year

• $765,828 to subsidize “pancakes for yuppies” in the nation’s capital

• $550,000 for a documentary about how rock music contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union

Wiping out this $6.5 billion in spending would be a good start to help our federal budget get back on track. Unfortunately, it is a little tougher said than done, and it is only a small percentage of our entire federal budget. Also, what I consider wasteful, others might consider to be a local stimulus.

It is easy to look at these projects and classify them as wasteful. One of the Tea Party’s rallying cries was to cut big government and wasteful spending. In contrast, one of the party’s leaders, Michelle Bachmann, recently asked the Transportation Department for $750,000 in federal funding to boost airline traffic in St. Cloud, Minn., population 65,000.

What is wasteful spending for one group is considered important development for others. If the federal government agreed to give us a couple million dollars for road construction or airport improvement, we would gladly take it. There’s the rub. What is wasteful spending somewhere else, is very welcomed at home.

If we want to get a start on cutting the budget, we need to agree this is an important first step. We need to vote against Congress members who get extra federal spending for his or her district. Even though we may like the money coming to Northeastern Colorado, we need to take a stand, saying we won’t support members of Congress who look to spend extra money that the government doesn’t have.

In relation to personal finance, you can cut some of the extras in your budget: the $3 daily coffee, the Value Meal super-size, or the regular manicure. Cutting these out of our personal budgets won’t save or destroy us, but they can help us get our budget and our debts in better shape.

If we want to cut our federal deficit and eventually start reducing the federal debt, this is just a start. We could cut all of the $6.5 billion in wasteful spending and still be more than $1 trillion away from balancing the budget. That being said, it could be a good start.

Instead of encouraging your federal representative or senator to get extra federal dollars to your community or area, you need to send a message this extra spending won’t fly. Even though it can appear to be beneficial, it is one extra expense that is running our country into the ground.

Instead of asking for more, for the good of the entire nation over our region, we need to start asking our federal official to do less for us individually instead of more. Like skipping that expensive daily habit or cutting back on some of our other indulgences, this is a small sacrifice we all should make for the good of our great nation.

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