2012-12-14 / Letters

Can You Spare $42B?

Dear Editor,

Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn have all joined the chorus that Washington will need to send us $42 billion as a result of damages created by Hurricane Sandy.

Three weeks ago, Governor Cuomo's request was for $31 billion. Two weeks ago, it jumped to $42 billion. Similarly, three weeks ago Bloomberg's request was for $9 billion. Two weeks ago, it went to $15 billion. What will Cuomo, Bloomberg, Schumer, Gillibrand and company ask for next week? The devil is in the details to justify these numbers. What about the recent scandal concerning the NYC Housing, Preservation and Development sitting on $1 billion in unspent federal dollars already available. How many other municipal and state agencies have how many additional billions in unspent federal dollars which could potentially be reprogrammed to help?

All conveniently ignore that our national debt now exceeds $16.19 trillion dollars. This averages $52,135 per citizen. Our legal debt limit of $16.39 trillion with less than $200 billion balance remaining will run out by the end of December based upon the current rate of spending. Remember that local, town, city, county and state debt combined adds up to another two trillion dollars!

Senators Schumer and Gillibrand fail to identify how Uncle Sam will come up with these funds. There will clearly be the need to offset this assistance with cuts in other programs. The National Flood Insurance Program, FEMA and Army Corps of Engineers will all need billions in supplemental appropriations.

It is time for President Barack Obama, Democratic Senate majority leader Harry Reid, Republican Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic House minority leader Nancy Palosi to come together on a bipartisan basis to make these difficult decisions. We need to resume "pay as you go" rather than kick the can down the road for future generations to pay the tab. With a $3.7 trillion dollar budget, how hard can it be to find $42 billion in savings? Allow me to offer some easy solutions which can pay for our assistance.

Implement “pay as you go” budgeting, means testing for all government assistance and sunset provisions for agencies and programs that have completed their missions. End pork-barrel member item spending, stop paying farmers to not grow crops and abolish corporate welfare subsides via tax deductions.

Close down obsolete military bases abroad. Reduce United Nations and foreign aid to those who offer no support when needed. Did anyone notice any United Nations resolution offering us solidarity in our time of need? How many of our so-called international allies have stepped up to the plate to offer us assistance for a change? End the wasteful war in Afghanistan.

The IRS should accelerate the collection of several hundred billion in uncollected back taxes owed by deadbeat individuals and corporations along with suspending billions in future tax refunds to those who fail to pay long overdue taxes or student loans.

Stop spending billions of dollars on the war on drugs. This includes paying foreign nations not to grow crops or destroying drugs at their source. Legalize the consumption and sale of marijuana, along with a sales tax on all transactions. Any combination of the above could easily raise $42 billion and more.

LARRY PENNER

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