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The federal government is already required to balance the budget every year. They passed two laws in 1985 and 1987 that require it.
The problem is that every Congress since then has declared excess spending to be 'emergency appropriations' that are not covered by those laws.
When you say "last fiscal year" do you mean FY22 or FY23?
I agree but one persons waste is a politicians path to votes. If I was the power behind a politician and they were going to cut my pet project having to do with the study of bugs and how they fly in warm weather vs cold weather because my daughter went to school for bugology and needs a grant then its no longer waste to me and I'll tell the politician that their career is over because of that picture I have of them making out with someone at a party on my yacht then we have a standoff and it doesnt get cut.
It's not a good mechanism or solution though. It is one of the reasons Europe is actually struggling and paying the price for such an approach.
Government debt is really just a mechanism of intergenerational wealth transfers. Basically, we perform certain investments for future generations. In order to ensure we get these benefits, we issue a debt facility forcing future generations to pay us. It is a win-win situation if the projects we fund out of debt have higher returns than the interest rate.
Warren Buffett said this? “You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP all sitting members of congress are ineligible for reelection.”
Who passes such laws?
Vivek has talked about zero-based budgeting several times, actually
I agree with you that the numbers and risks of insolvency are looking scary. However, the answer is not easy. The government employees a sizable portion of the population. When you talk about cutting spending, you are talking about cutting jobs and government contracts that many private sector corporations depend on. It will result in a severe recession/depression and that is when people expect the government to increase spending and boost the economy.
If Trump becomes president I expect him to take the approach of boosting GDP instead. It's the least painful way to make the numbers work.