Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Let's Establish a Solidarity Fund

Apr 13, 2010 | Budget Process

In order to help address its debt crisis, the country of Greece has set up a "solidarity account" to which people can donate money to help pay down the debt.

With debt levels nearly 30 times higher (in dollar terms) in the United States, it would be silly to think we could solve our fiscal problems simply from donations. But to help raise awareness of the importance of controlling out debt, perhaps its time for the United States to establish its own solidarity fund.

Technically, citizens can already donate money to the government. But we could be doing so much more.

Recently, several Members of Congress have complained that if they don't spend their entire budget, it isn't used to reduce the deficit. Why not let Members put their excess funds into the solidarity fund. They can then compete over who is putting a higher percent of their budget toward reducing the deficit.

And why not do the same for agencies? If they are able to find administrative savings, there is no reason they shouldn't be able to deposit them with Uncle Sam -- and get all the credit for doing so.

Politicians could also choose to dedicate the saving from deficit-reducing bills into the solidarity fund. In that case, the money would have to go to deficit reduction -- and couldn't be used to offset future deficit-increasing bills under statutory PAYGO.

And individual taxpayers should not only be allowed to donate to debt reduction, but given the option to on their tax form.

Of course, we are not so naive as to believe we can actually pay off our debt from voluntary contributions -- especially as we continue to accumulate massive amounts of fresh debt each year. But perhaps a solidarity fund can help to put a new focus on the issue. And it just might help to foster a culture where we don't ask what tax cuts and spending increasing the government can give to us, but what we can do together to create a better world for our children and grandchildren.