Boy Scout gives senator a good ‘talking to’ about federal budget

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To the Hon. Max Baucus, United States Senate:

I am a 17-year-old junior at Whitefish High School. I am aware that your job is to represent me, and seeing that you were unaware of my existence up to this point, I would like to inform you of one of the places I would expect you to stand politically.

I have some real concerns that came upon me while viewing the Government Accountability Office’s Long Term Fiscal Outlook, January 2011. There are currently two simulations being described; the Baseline Extended and the Alternative. The Baseline Extended follows the Congressional Budget Office’s January 2011 baseline estimates for the first 10 years and then holds revenue and spending other than interest on the debt and the large entitlement programs (Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid) constant as a share of gross domestic product (GOP). Revenue as a share of GOP over the entire period is higher than the historical average; discretionary spending is below average.

In the Alternative simulation, tax provisions other than the temporary Social Security payroll tax reduction are extended to 2021 and the alternative minimum tax (AMT) exemption amount is indexed to inflation through 2021; revenues are then brought back to the historical average as a share of GDP; discretionary spending other than Recovery Act provisions grows with GDP during the entire period — keeping it just below the 40-year historical average as a share of GDP.

Of the two simulations considered, the Baseline Extended is obviously superior.

The Alternative, on the other hand, even under close scrutiny, seems to have no positives to it. I am concerned with the fact that something like the Alternative plan would even be considered by Congress in its “fiscal cliff” negotiations. The Alternative demonstrates that by 2040, the United States will be able to afford slightly under half of what we will be purchasing. This is done by increasing the spending on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and net interest, and by not cutting back by any significant amount on all other spending.

With the Baseline Extended simulation, the only thing that the country will not be able to afford is all other spending, leaving Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security and the Net Interest to be paid. It does not take a decent politician or someone with a college degree to notice that keeping to something like the Baseline is obviously better by all standards. It did not take me, a 17-year-old Montana boy, a second look to realize there is something extremely wrong with the Alternative way of handling federal finances but that seems to be exactly what Congress is trying to do.

I do not have a full-time job. I landscape throughout the entire summer and that is my only source of income for each year. I stretch that money out to last me 12 months, buying amenities, ski accessories, sporting equipment and other such things that a teenager might buy. To be blunt, I have learned to spend my money more carefully and wisely than our government. If that does not disturb you, then I do not know what will.

In short, your stand on federal spending can make or break you in our next elections. I am advising you to choose wisely. With the way we are spending money that we do not rightfully have, there is nowhere for our country to go but downhill. It would be wise to take a stand and try to slow down the habit of spending.

I would like to remind you these views are my expectations. By the next elections, I will be able to vote. Depending on your views, I will either be campaigning for or against you with all of my heart. This will either maintain or destroy your current status. I do not apologize if this brings chills to you, because I need for you to realize the seriousness of this subject and, more importantly, do something about it.

Knox is a resident of Whitefish

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