Over 950 concerned citizens attended Strong America Now’s Deficit Free America Summit two weeks ago in Des Moines, Iowa to demand that their representatives in Washington eliminate the federal deficit and balance the budget by 2017.
Some in Washington think 2017 is too early to end deficit spending. The president and many other politicians sincerely believe that it is not realistic to balance the federal budget sooner than a few decades, never mind within five years. Many in the media regularly belittle those who suggest we can cut spending drastically by reducing waste and inefficiency.
Most Americans, however, recognize that we must act now to tame this growing threat to our economy. They understand that restoring fiscal responsibility is a moral issue, not a political one. When we owe over $14.3 trillion it is simply wrong to continue to pile debt on our children and grandchildren.
Millions of citizens like those at the Deficit Free America Summit have joined together to respond to the crisis, building grassroots movements and demanding action from their representatives in Washington.
One such American is Mike George. Mike is the founder of Strong America Now, an organization devoted to balancing the federal budget and reducing the national debt much faster than most in Washington are willing to admit is possible.
With the government borrowing 41 cents of every dollar it spends, and the President’s budget commission not anticipating a balanced budget until 2035, Mike realizes that two decades is too long to wait. So the Strong America Now solution eliminates the federal deficit and starts paying down the debt by 2017, without raising taxes.
He knows from personal experience that we can achieve massive reductions in costs while also improving outcomes.
As a business consultant, Mike created the Lean Six Sigma method for deep cost cuts, and through his firm the George Group, he brought his expertise at streamlining corporate processes to companies like Xerox and Caterpillar. Using his method, for instance, Motorola was able to return 1,500 manufacturing jobs to the U.S. which it had previously outsourced to China.
Mike’s Lean Six Sigma method was so successful at cutting waste in private enterprise that in 2004 the Department of Defense hired the George Group to help tame runaway costs by training personnel in the process.
The results were stunning.
The Army reduced costs by approximately $22 billion in processes and programs to which it applied Lean Six Sigma. The Army Material Command alone is responsible for half of that savings by removing waste from the Army’s supply chain. The Naval Warfare Systems Center in Charleston, SC achieved a tenfold increase in production of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (used to protect soldiers from roadside bombs), with no new facilities and no additional employees. Another Navy facility achieved a fivefold increase in productivity and an 83 percent reduction in cycle time on aircraft engine repairs.
The Army has even established annual awards for excellence in Lean Six Sigma called the Lean Six Sigma Excellence Awards Program or LEAP. Its goal is to have 0.5 percent of the Army workforce certified in the method to ensure resources do not go to waste and service members get the support they deserve. There have also been 17 other government organizations that have won the Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence using Lean Six Sigma.
Bringing the Efficiency of Private Enterprise to the Federal Government
Mike knows that there is no reason to accept continual increases in spending across the federal government without the kind of careful examination that has been successful with many military projects. So after giving up his financial interest in Lean Six Sigma in 2007, he decided to get involved in solving our nation’s growing debt crisis.
Mike founded Strong America Now in 2010 to end Washington’s overspending by electing leaders committed to the kind of dramatic cost reductions he had already proved to be possible.
Strong America Now estimates that roughly 25 percent of all government spending is waste. Eliminating this waste across the government would slash between 500 and 700 billion dollars per year from the federal budget. That amount is roughly equal to the entire annual budget of the Department of Defense, and it is enough to start paying down the debt before the end of the decade.
Over 15,000 people have signed the Strong America Now Pledge to support only those candidates who commit to apply Lean Six Sigma cost reductions across the federal government.
These Americans understand that a task as difficult as eliminating the deficit requires more than a few people; we will need dozens of candidates and thousands of citizens committed to the kind of dramatic reductions in spending that America needs.
I know from experience that balancing the budget is hard work. It requires the support of millions of Americans who understand that we must live within our means. And in 2012, it will require a national conversation about how soon we can do it. With grassroots movements like Strong America Now, I am confident the American people will come to the right conclusion.
On his travels through the United States in the early 1830s, Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville observed that Americans’ active involvement in their communities was among the most important foundations for the defense of their freedoms. That is why I included such participation as one of the “Five Habits of Liberty” in my new book, A Nation Like No Other: Why American Exceptionalism Matters.
As Tocqueville observed 180 years ago, America works best when private citizens join together to do what the government cannot. Mike George and Strong America Now are living this habit of liberty to its fullest every day: they bring their individual knowledge to prove to legislators in Washington that citizens know how to do the job our representatives have abdicated.
To explain in greater depth why America is A Nation Like No Other, Callista and I made the documentary A City Upon A Hill: The Spirit of American Exceptionalism. Click here to view the trailer.
Newt’s Quick Links
· In his piece on Renewing American Leadership, Robert Schwarzwalder argues Why “Natural Law” Still Matters for Conservatives. Read it here.