No one will admit to coming up with the phrase or the idea; but sometime during the Bush administration of 2000-2008 some lunatic did it. The phrase and idea is: Off Budget. Most simply put, it means money the Federal government spends that it doesn’t include in the general budget. However it is real money and has to come from somewhere. Special appropriations bills are passed authorizing the Treasury to provide this money for whatever the bill requires it to. For even though it is not included in the regular budget, it is just the same as if it was included, in terms of the government either having to generate the income to pay for it or as is commonly done – borrow the money to pay for it. So by doing this the budget stays technically smaller, but the real expenditure by the government gets larger; and so does the amount it has to borrow to pay for the “off budget” spending.
It is a crazy little trick or game that changes only the description of the spending; but creates the same amount of debt as if the spending was included in the regular budget. So why bother doing this crazy little charade? Because of what “off budget’ is usually used for. In the previous decade it was mostly used to pay for two wars in the Middle East. If the trillions of dollars spent were put into the part of the regular budget allocated to the Military it would make that amount look even more out of proportion to the rest of the budget than it already is. Also it would make the Military the responsible (at least on paper) for the hundreds of billions spent on private contractors, mercenaries, cash payments to Iraqi and Afghan operatives, warlords, drug kingpins and political leaders (some of whom are all of the fore mentioned). That would raise all kinds of questions, many of which have no good answer, or an answer that no one wants made public.
It appears that anytime the government puts something off budget; they are trying to hide or evade something. They may be able to hide some of the more sorted details of the way the money is used or misused; but there is something they can’t hide. That something is the fact that the money does show up in the spent column of the government’s books; usually as a big deficit item, that is unpaid for. Thus of the trillions we owe to foreign countries; much of it has come from the “off budget” costs of the wars we are fighting and have been for nearly a decade.
Now the Republicans who for 6 years exclusively owned and ran that “off budget” war business are all but apoplectic about the size of the debt they have run up. They are trying to blame President Obama for the huge deficits and debt, but most of us know that they handed him three lit sticks of dynamite to juggle; Iraq, Afghanistan and Wall Street. He’s juggling “off budget” projects that Washington was already deeply committed to when he took office. He is trying to toss Iraq and Afghanistan out the window as soon as he can. The banking crisis required the huge bailout arranged on Bush’s watch, which has gotten a great deal of flak and little praise; often from the same Republican corner. In a sane world some of the hundreds of major and thousands of minor crooks in the banks, brokerage house, mortgage agencies, etc. would have been tried, convicted, fined and sentenced, and the rest would have been fired without a penny of bonus or severance. But some of the huge amount of money they stole was used to buy a lot of political protection. Wall Street has it’s hooks so deep into both political parties that it’s going to take a lot push back from the public on Congress before Obama has the backing he needs to hand them back their stick of dynamite.
Republican politicians in Washington, along with some of their Democrat colleagues in malfeasance, want to pretend that the pocket change of the cost of NPR and Heating Oil for the poor are the cause of the all the budgetary red ink the country is drowning in. But here again, the people know truth. Even the TEA Party knows (or should) in its collective heart that it isn’t that we are Taxed Enough Already, but that Washington has been corrupted into giving loads of public money to their very rich corruptors, that makes us feel cheated. It is the tax breaks for billionaires, subsidies for trillion dollar energy conglomerates, tax breaks serving as incentives for American global corporations sending our jobs overseas and a whole host of corporate welfare, mark-ups and favors, etc.; not funding the CDC’s public health effort or the NIH trying to cure cancer that is the problem.
We haven’t “off budgeted” trillions in some socialist one-world effort to help the enslaved, abused or starving of this world; but to put our major military might right smack into the middle of the major oil supply of the Persian Gulf. Hundreds of thousands of locals have died, hundreds of billions of dollars have disappeared, and some of our best and bravest young men and women have died or served tour after tour after tour to make sure the oil keeps flowing. We the people have given our treasure and our lives so that Exxon-Mobil can have an annual $19 billion of profits, but not pay a nickel of income tax on any of it. And now they want working Americans to sacrifice because of the gigantic debt those in Washington created at the behest of their corporate bosses.
So when the Pols try and bamboozle us with finger pointing, name calling, blaming the poor, or the unions, or each other for the budget failures and debt dependency they, themselves have created over the past decades; we must tell them in no uncertain terms that we know that they caused the problem. In fact; they are the problem. They were the ones running Washington, who let Bush and Cheney put our Oil Wars “off budget”. They were the ones who took the money from Big Energy, Big Agribusiness, Big Pharma and Big Brokerage Banks; and did them nig favors in the tax code. Don’t let them blame the American people; their rich overlords are the greedy bad guys in this story. Make the Pols in Washington make things right by tossing out the old corrupt and creating a new fair and honest tax code. Make them enforce cost controls over the wildly runaway medical, drug and insurance industries, instead of cutting services for the majority of Americans. Make them bring our military back from the Persian Gulf, Korea and Europe. These “allies” have had our protection long enough and can well afford their own security from whomever they fear. Make them create American jobs in infrastructure and manufacturing using American workers and American materials. Make them balance the budget by dropping the waste of corruption and even raising taxes on those not paying their fair share. Everything should be on the table; except putting anything “off budget”.