“Just the Facts, Ma’am” – Part 1

Sergeant Joe Friday - Badge # 714

Dummmmmmmmmb da dumb dumb

Dummmmmmmmmb da dumb dumb

Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuummmmmmmmmmb!

The story you are about to read is true.  No names have been changed, simply because, when it comes to the federal budget, actual receipts, and actual outlays, there is no longer any plausible deniability.

=========

It was Thursday, 30 September, 2010, the final day of the federal 2010 fiscal year.  I was working the fraud division out of headquarters, LAPD.

We were closing out cases involving eight city officials in Bell, a small suburb northeast of Los Angeles.  I was thinking, again, that voters couldn’t be more apathetic and that politicians couldn’t get more greedy or stupid, when the phone rang.

“Is this Friday?”

“No sir, this is Thursday.”

“Joe?”

“Yes sir?”

“This is the chief.  Turn your case work over to Gannon.  I need you to go to DC tonight to investigate a nuisance complaint.”

“Sir?”

“OMB will start cooking the books tomorrow; and there’s bound to be a big stink in the capital, perhaps the second biggest ever.”

“OMB?  Cooking the books. . .?  Sir, that seems a little beneath my pay grade . . . . . . . . . . . .”

“Get a clue, Sergeant!  Tomorrow is the beginning of FY11 for the feds.  They don’t have an approved budget, yet.  That means there will be much attention paid to what happened this past fiscal year.  People need the facts; and you’re our man in that department.”

“Sir, the federal budget is a complicated thing.”

“No it isn’t; but many people believe that.  It’s simply complex.  Therefore, it can be disassembled into simple things.”

“How do you know that, Sir?”

“We have a CI in DC.”

“A CI?”

“Yes, he has a PhD.”

“That so.  What’s the name of our CI in DC with the PhD?”

“Thor. . .”

“Last name?”

“Throat”

“Got it . . . . Where can I locate him?”

“He was arrested on a DUI.  Apparently, he was trying to chauffer former Representative Patrick Kennedy.  They drove down into the Tidal Basin on one of those Duck Boat tour ramps in an attempt to get to the Jefferson Memorial.  However, he’ll be released tomorrow.  You can probably find him at the OTB on K street, where Jack Abramoff’s offices used to be.”

=========

I hopped the red eye from LAX to Reagan National at 1234 hours on Friday, October 1, 2010, the start of the federal 2011 fiscal year.  The CI in DC with the Phd was at the OTB after his DUI, just like the chief said.

“Mr. Throat?”

“Call me Thor, Son.”

“Thorsen, the chief says that you can explain the federal budget to me.”

“I prolly can.  I’m a CPA.”

“Good.  Let’s just stick to the facts and keep it simple.  The chief says the budget is not complicated.”

“True.  It’s merely complex.”

“Huh?”

The CI could see that I was in bad shape.  He took pity on me and managed an explanation in a rumbling voice whose volume was just above the televised chatter of the pre-race events at Aqueduct.

“When something is complex, Bud, it may be well organized and logically constructed as well as subtle and intricate.  That describes that thar federal budget.  Got it?”

I nodded.  I was taking notes as quickly as I could while the CI drawled on.

“When something is complicated, it will have something irregular, perverse, or asymmetrical, in addition to its fundamental intricacy.  For example, it’s more likely that your personal life is complicated, while your mathematically-based checkbook can never aspire to anything more than being complex.”

My hand was cramping.

I mumbled, “My personal life is simple.”

“I sure can believe that, Boy.”

I plowed ahead. . . . .

“It’s impressive that you’re aware of what appears to be a subtle difference between ‘complex’ and ‘complicated’.  Is your doctorate in etymology?”

“No.  I wrote my thesis on sexually transmitted diseases.  I am a research physician.”

==========

My interview with the DUI CPA CI in DC with the Phd on STDs in the OTB on K street was getting off track.  I tried to refocus my questioning.

“What’s the best way to approach an understanding of the federal budget?”

“Ahhhh, that’s simple, Sunshine.  To begin, realize that any business budget is a plan for revenues as well as expenses – same way with the feds.  Except, the feds call their revenues ‘receipts’ and their expenses, ‘outlays’”.

“Why is that?”

“The government isn’t run like a business, Bud; and the feds couldn’t run a business any better than my liberal-ass cousin in Tulsa can kill loco weeds by peeing on them.”

“Is that your opinion?”

“The first part ain’t.  The second part is.”

“OK.  Again, let’s just stick to the facts. . . . ”

“All righty, then.”

“OK.  So, what’s next?”

“Huh?  Next?”

“About the federal budget . . . .”

“Ohhhhhhh . . . yeah. . .  The statistics derived from the federal budget, are often best understood with an analysis that divides it into three parts.”

“OK. . . . three parts . . . what are they?”

“First, there’s that revenue part – a plan for what the government expects to receive.  When one drills down into this part, the first level is easy enough for even most liberals to understand.”

“Do you have an example from this past fiscal year that I could look at?”

“No. . .”

I looked up.  The CI probably saw the desperation and fatigue in my eyes.  The last thing I wanted to hear is he telling me where to go in DC to research this myself.

=============

It was autumn.  The air was cool; and the door to the OTB was open to let out the cigar smoke.

The CI had on an overcoat, suit jacket, and vest.  Within his complete outfit, including his shirt and trousers, I counted nearly 20 pockets.  He wasn’t armed, so I didn’t figure him for a RWer.

After fishing around in most of his pockets, he produced a small scrap of paper and a pen with which he proceeded to scribble for the next 5 minutes.  Then, he shoved the paper across the table.

Federal Receipts - FY10

The CI spoke first.

“I’m doin’ ya a big favor, Toots.  I’ve included every frickin’ penny the federal government collected during FY10 just to help you make this case against your liberal defense witnesses.”

“How’s that?”

“Liberals these days get defensive when there’s talk about the budget.”

“Why?”

“We’ll get to that in Part 2 . . . Let’s just say for right now that they always want to fight about what’s ‘on-budget’ and what’s ‘off-budget’ – which is, of course, horseshit.  The only significant thang that was ever ‘off-budget’, that came ‘on-budget’ for a time, was Social Security.”

“How come?”

“Well, that goddamn progressive, FDR, thought that his invention of Social Security would always be self-sustaining.  He was wrong.  That’s the reason it was treated as an ‘off-budget’ item throughout most of its early existence, though.”

The CI leaned a bit towards me to deliver his next rant.

“For many years SS collected more than it disbursed.  This was the case during that damned Viet Nam war.  So, LBJ brought Social Security ‘on-budget’ to try to cover up deficits during those years.  President Reagan put a stop to that buuuuuuullllshit.”

“You’re going to have to watch your mouth.  Open Salon doesn’t want to publish much vulgarity.”

“All right, Wus.”

===========

The CI had handed me a scrap of paper listing all budgeted and actual FY10 federal receipts.  I started to scan it but was stopped immediately by the first entry.

“The federal government only received $936 from personal income taxes?”

“No.  That’s in billions of dollars, Einstein; . . .  and, that’s NOT what they received.  That’s what they PLANNED to receive.  They actually received over a trillion dollars in personal income taxes.”

“I see.  So, help me here.  These budget figures are rounded to the nearest . . .?”

“. . . . . $500 million. . . . . . . .”

“That reminds me . . .”

“What?”

“. . . . of something Everett Dirksen used to say. . . .”

The CI intoned:

“A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

“Exactly.”

My emotions suddenly rushed to the surface.  My eyes were not focusing well.  The memory of the great gravel-voiced Senator from Illinois hit me hard in my sleep-deprived state.

Nevertheless, I continued to scan down the CI’s list.  I understood most of the entries from my own paystub experience until I got to the category titled “Ad-valorem” taxes.

“What about these things called ‘exercise taxes’? What are they?”

“That’s ‘excise’, not ‘exercise’, Bubba.  Excise taxes, custom duties, estate and gift taxes, generally all belong to a class of taxes called ‘ad-valorem’ taxes.  ‘Ad-valorem’ is a Latin expression meaning ‘by value’.”

My hand was starting cramp again.  The CI droned on.

“Therefore, all of these taxes are levied based upon the value of the thing being taxed.  Excise taxes happen to be those imposed on products produced in America for sale in America.  These are the federal taxes one finds on such things as gasoline, cigarettes, and alcohol that are produced inland and sold inland.”

“So, let me guess.  Customs duties are levied on the value of goods imported to America?”

“Correct.  They are not excise taxes.  They are, however, ad-valorem taxes.”

“. . . and these estate and gift taxes? . . .”

“How much do you make a year?”

“$32,950, gross”, I said proudly.

“You don’t have to worry about those.  Only the rich pay estate and gift taxes.”

“Really?  Finally something good about poverty.”  I said.

The CI burped.

“Worm, that ain’t nuttin’.  The wealthiest 5% in America are now paying nearly 60% of all individual income taxes.  The wealthiest 50% pay almost 96% of all personal income taxes in this country.”

“No shit!”

This time the CI leaned forward and menacingly said, “Watch your mouth, asshole.”

“Sorry . . . OK. . . ”

I leaned forward over the table to meet the CI’s face in the middle, to make sure that I correctly heard the answers to my next two questions.

“You’re stating that one half of this country is pretty much paying the entireincome tax bill for all taxpayers?”

“Yep.”

“. . . and that the top earning 5% pay way more than half of all personal income taxes?”

“Yep.”

At this point, the call of nature hit me.  I went to the back of the OTB parlor only to discover that nothing in our nation’s capital comes easy.

Urinals in DC

=========

When I got back, I could tell the CI was getting impatient.  The first race was about to begin; and I could see by the stubs in front of him that he had his first bets down.

I sat to finish my investigation of the list he had given me.

“The $77 billion looks like interest on deposits of money by the federal government in banks.”

“Close enough. . . but, thanks to that sonofabitch Ben Bernanke, we only pulled in $27.5 billion on that money.”

I skipped down to the line where the two totals were shown.

“So, the feds thought they would pull in $2.2 trillion; but they actually received more than $2.3 trillion?”

“That’s about right. . . .”

“So what’s the second part?”

“You mean of the federal budget?”

“Yes. . . .”

“It’s a part we like to call ‘non-discretionary spending’.  This is the part that makes liberals angry.”

Then, the CI started to laugh like that polish person driving the ice road in Alaska during the winter.  He was starting to attract too much attention.

I bolted out the front door to the fresh, cold air.  There was something about it, though.  A smell.  OMB was already at work.  I had to act fast in order to make my case; but, first, I needed some sleep.

==============

Dummmmmmmmmb da dumb dumb

Dummmmmmmmmb da dumb dumb

Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuummmmmmmmmmb!

The story you have just read is true.

Budgetary data were convicted for crimes against America and Americans and imprisoned for life at:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2011/assets/tables.pdf

Actual revenue and expense data were convicted of conspiracy with bugetary data and are continually being rehabilitated at:

http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/obama_budget_10.html

You may visit other confined tax data daily at:

http://www.taxfoundation.org/news/show/22652.html

Tune in again next week, when our dragnet captures all the details of federal non-discretionary spending in less than 2,000 words.

* Liberals will squirm in discomfort!

* Tea Party congregants will collapse in hypocritical fits where they simultaneously curse social spending while shivering in fear of Social Security benefit reductions.

* Everett Dirksen will guest star again next week to say, in his unique voice:

“I have said, with respect to authorization bills, that I do not want the Congress or the country to commit fiscal suicide on the installment plan.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s