Budgetary Viewpoints from The Podium...
Understandably, it's hard to reduce spending while fighting two separate military operations. However, as the situation continues to improve in Iraq, we can start projecting how we can save billions just by coming to a favorable end to our occupation of that nation. $145 billion has been allocated for the Global War on Terror, Iraq consumes a large part of that in and of itself. Once Iraq is done with and we wind things down a bit more in Afghanistan, we could cut the current budget deficit of $240 billion in half.
However, we must currently continue to create a favorable outcome in Iraq now, as future U.S.-involved conflict due to leaving Iraq in bad shape would mean future military operations there. To leave Iraq now would lead to more spending later.
Entitlements - Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid/SCHIP/Welfare/Unemployment
Until then, some trimming around the edges of other government programs will be necessary, we need to find a way to do this without hurting those who actually need government assistance.
The introduction of privatized Social Security (at least in an optional sense) would help. The U.S. federal budget will spend $608 billion dollars on Social Security for the fiscal year of 2008. It is the single-most expensive item of spending in our budget, and it gets more expensive each year.
$324 billion will be spent on welfare/unemployment, this can be cut down if we can stimulate job growth "from the ground up", so to speak.
The combined $595 billion spent on Medicare/Medicaid/SCHIP could be made a lot cheaper if we opened up health insurance to the free markets just like car insurance, life insurance, et cetera. You, the individual, find the plan and the price that is right for you. In fact, we can probably even set up government-funded assistance for people who don't quite know what to look for when shopping around for insurance and still cut down on this price tag.
Also, by adopting a more federalist approach, we can defer funding for abortions to the state level, and there the states can decide whether or not they choose to provide funding and assistance for abortion practices on their own, thus removing financial responsibility from the federal government.
With lowered spending comes less of a need for taxes. While I'm not calling for the dissolution of the IRS just yet, the combination of lower spending and a simpler tax code would lessen the need for any future tax increases, and may lead to a call for tax decreases.
Whether we're talking federal, state, or local levels, fiscal prudence will always be an appealing cornerstone for conservatives. The George W. Bush-style of budgeting money has not been fiscally prudent overall. While his tax cuts have kept money in the pockets of those who earned it, spending has continued to increase.
However, the reigning in of spending increases has occurred over the past few years. The federal budget deficit has gone from $390 billion (FY 2006) to about $240 billion (FY 2008). Continued reduction at this rate will lead to a balanced budget, or budget surplus, by Fiscal Year 2011.
We must continue on this track, and find ways to "trim the fat" from our budget.
Optional privatization of social security allows people to make a choice to invest their social security funds, which allows for less spending on social security itself. Lower taxes puts money back in the pockets of those who earned the money in the first place. Less federal spending makes our government less cumbersome and more nimble and flexible to foreign and domestic changes. Finally, the reduction and streamlining of entitlement programs increases the amount of independency American citizens have from the federal government.