Putting aside the Federal crisis for the moment, 15 States face budget shortfalls, this year. UNLIKE Congress, MOST States have to balance their budgets each year, and many are complaining or asking for bailouts.
They, and we, have an opportunity: Census figures will be out soon, and both the States and Congress can measure how well they have done for The People, the past ten years.
AD 2000 was a wonderful year: Democrat Bill Clinton was still President, Republicans controlled BOTH Houses of Congress, Dot Coms had not gone bust, most wars had been concluded, and the Federal Budget was balanced (at least, if you included Social Security receipts in the General Fund ... The Debt went up, albeit modestly). [put the Treasury tables together]
Roughly, government expenditures should have increased 40% since 2000 (10% population growth and 30% inflation), to continue to ensure the wonderful "quality of life" we all enjoyed at the beginning of the Millenium.
To be more arcane, the simple formula for ensuring prosperity should be 2011 budgets=2000 budgets*((2010 CPI-2000 CPI)/2000 CPI)*((2010 population-2000 population)/2000 population)/2000 population to get government expenditures equal to the (inflation-adjusted) per-person expenditures that made us all happy in 2000.
Every State Legislator and every Congress Critter should be asking him- or her- self: "What can I do that is best for The People of my State and my Nation?"
Every citizen should be asking: "Was I better off in 2000, or now?"
As State Legislatures and a new Federal Congress meet next month, they will need to balance their budgets. MANY People have voiced their opinions on this. Many States are Constitutionally required to do this. The Federal Government is not (yet).
The People (including members of prison unions) are going to have to accept reductions in the amount of State or Federal largesse.
The Legislatures and Congress are going to have to accept reductions in the amounts of money "given" to their contributors.
States pass "real budgets" generally by July ... The President suggests a budget generally declared "dead on arrival" ... and Congress may or may not pass a budget in the Spring for which they cannot pass Appropriations until the Winter, after their Fall deadline has passed (most current appropriations have NOT been passed, even into December ... they were due October 1).
State Legislators: as you meet this coming year, remember that in 2000 your People were happy and they are unhappy now. Please do not go begging to the rest of the Nation for your salvation: you and your predecessors (politicians all) spent more than the State earned ... your People may have been pleased by pandering, but they are really worried, now. Balance your budgets as you have to.
Congress: ten years ago, you had a Democratic President and a Republican Congress ... both sides were happy, and The People had benefited. Yet you have continued a political wrestling match and your ratings are below that of the WWE.
In 2006 , Republicans took a shellacking: 14,000 earmarks did not go over well with your Public.
In 2010, Democrats took a shellacking: paying off Wall Street and passing an Insurance-Care Bill did not do much for your popularity.
Congress: you had a job to do by October 1 and you have not yet finished it. Many of you were fired because of your incompetence ... DO IT! before you leave your cubicles.
The difference in expenditures/citizen since the happy days of 2000 is significant, but the benefits/citizen are minimal. Ask any voter. The difference may have been pocketed by politicians or their contributors.
State Legislators and Congress: please put the interests of your voters (The People) above those of parties or finances or yourself.