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Los Angeles County, CA June 5, 2012 Election
Smart Voter

Ants & Elephants

By Steve Collett

Candidate for United States Representative; District 33

This information is provided by the candidate
How we can solve our federal budget crisis
Our federal budget process would be laughable if it were not for the misery and wasted tax dollars that result. There are three elephants in the budget that neither Republicans nor Democrats seem willing to address.

The first one is defense. Our defense expenditures in 2010 were $700 billion, seven times more than the next largest country in the world. We spend more than the next 11 largest defense budgets combined. We spend 43% of total world defense dollars. Republicans claim to be about less government, but they bear the lions' share of responsibility for ballooning defense expenditures. The recent proposal by GOP House budget committee chairman Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis) slashing entitlement costs actually provided for a defense increase.

A second elephant is entitlements. Right or wrong, we have made commitments with respect to social security, Medicaid and Medicare. A deal is a deal. We have taken citizens down a path of dependency on these programs. Where we have made promises in the past, we must live up to them. But for future services, we need a different system. Any attempt to bring down the deficits must include a reduction in government entitlement costs for future services.

The third elephant is the war on drugs. With an estimated 2 trillion dollar combined cost at the federal, state, and local levels, it has cost more than the wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan put together. It is the most failed policy in U.S. history. Rather than benefiting Americans, tax dollars spent on the war on drugs actually increase crime, empower gangs, drug cartels and terrorists, lead to violations of rights against search and seizure, result in massive discrimination against minorities, encourage police corruption, endanger our children, cause increases in health care costs, and have resulted in a prison rate five times higher than most every other country in the world.

So what do our legislators do to reduce our trillion dollar deficits, they cut $38 billion in spending on the environment, education, healthcare, job training and other domestic programs. Certain legislators even called to cut funding for planned parenthood, the one program that probably returns more to the government than it costs in terms of savings from preventative healthcare for women. These are ant sized expenditures in a $3.5 trillion dollar budget.

We are stepping on the ants and ignoring the elephants.  It is time to elect legislators who are not pandering to defense contractors. It is time to stand up to the prison industrial complex. It is time to subject all appropriations to sunset provisions which require the government to re-approve funding instead of continuing programs forever which would never be re-approved if evaluated after a sunset date.

Fix entitlements. Cut defense. End our insane war on drugs.

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