Welcome to THE SPEAKER'S WORD: The Official Journal of the eUSA Congress.
Dateline: Sunday, January 7th 2018 (Day 2597)
Location: 121st eUS Congress
Editor: dmjohnston, Deputy Speaker of the House
Greetings eAmerica! In the recent days and weeks, some members of Congress have publicly questioned the long-standing process that we follow in the eUS when it comes to the movement, budgeting, and spending of our tax revenue. While many of these people are long-serving Congressmen who have been intimately involved in this process for years, it seems that a review of the process is needed, and what better place to do it than here on the Speaker's Word, to help all our citizens better understand where their money goes!
Let's start with the obvious. In eRepublik, we gain government revenue through various taxes, namely, the Work Tax, Import Tax, and Value Added Tax (or VAT). Of these sources, the Work Tax is by far our largest source of revenue. Our current tax rates are publicly viewable here on the eRepublik website.
Every second of every minute of every day, we receive revenue and it is automatically placed in the Country Treasury.
Here's where things get interesting. Certain things, like the costs associated with Mutual Protection Pacts, are automatically deducted from the Country Treasury as they occur. The only other way to move money out of the Country Treasury is through Donation Laws.
Donation laws have a limit of 400,000 country currency per law and we can only propose a donation law every 24 hours. This means that the most we can move out of the country treasury is 400,000 country currency per day.
Normally, this wouldn't be an issue. However since a single priority battle may require more than this cap to secure victory, an external holding area is required to allow more fluidity in our spending.
To accomplish this, the eUS established the Congressional Budget Office. This office is run by 4 highly trusted individuals, selected by a full Congressional vote, and they handle the holding and accounting of our reserve.
To help them accomplish this task, Congress “donates” money from the Country Treasury to an official Government Organization account, also named the Congressional Budget Office. From here, transferred funds are split and held in various accounts and locations to protect the total value of our reserve, so that our enemies can not know how much money we have to defend against attack, acting as a deterrent.
Common practice for the donation laws is to move as much money as possible with each donation, leaving a buffer of 100,000 cc to cover automatic withdrawals like MPPs. Thus, whenever the Country Treasury reaches 500,000 cc, a donation of 400,000 cc to the CBO is proposed. This ensures we have the maximum available reserve at all times should it be needed.
The next aspect of our money is the Congressional Budget. Each month, after the election of a new Speaker of the House, we discuss a new budget proposal. This budget looks like this:
The budget has an entry for MPPs, even though they come directly from the Country Treasury and not from the money moved to the CBO because it is still a cost that comes out of the revenue we receive from taxes. Spending more on MPPs reduces the amount of money ultimately moved into the CBO.
Other budgeted lines are requested from the CBO in their subforum. Each and every outlay of money that occurs due to a budget line in the monthly budget occurs here. Any budgeted funds that are not requested simply remain as part of the total reserve. Often times we over budget a little to account for anomalies (I often did this as the Secretary of Defense running the Arm America program) but there is never any harm in this since unspent budget does not disappear.
What about other spending? Obviously we can't budget for all our costs. Things happen that need to be addressed. There are two ways this occurs.
When there is enough time to do so, a full Congressional vote can authorize needed spending. When this happens, the request is usually then made in the CBO subforum after the vote authorizes it. If the vote occurred in the classified Private Congressional Discussions, the request to the CBO will typically include a link to the vote, but not the amount requested. The details of this classified spending is declassified and placed in the Congressional Library at a later date.
When time is a factor, or when the nature of the spending requires a particularly strong level of secrecy to ensure security, the Select Committee on Intelligence, or SCI is used.
The SCI is a group of Congressmen, selected by various Presidents over time, who serve on the committee until they are no longer in Congress or are removed by the sitting President, typically for inactivity.
SCI is authorized to approve spending by the executive. For a long time, this spending was rarely disclosed until much later. This lack of transparency in one of the most spending organizations in our government caused congress to pass the SCI Disclosure Act back in 2013.
This act, which had since been added as a part of the eUS Code, mandates that upon the initiation of the Budget Discussion each month, SCI spending from the previous month is summarized and released to Congress in Private Congressional Discussions to assist in budgeting for the month, and that the details of the SCI spending from two months prior is disclosed in the Public Congressional Discussions.
This means that every penny spent by the government is visible to the public within 2 months of it occurring. This is a much different situation that some have painted a picture of.
Over the years, there has been a general trend of more transparency, not less. Understanding the way our process works and why it operates the way it does can help recognize this trend. When I first got involved in the political side of eRepublik after many months of avoiding it like the plague I made sure that I understood the process. I asked questions. I read the available resources. I observed.
I have a strong commitment to transparency when it comes to our spending and always have. I authored the SCI Disclosure Act for that very reason. The people deserve to know where their taxes go. That principle has created the system we currently have. My hope in this explanation is that now you know where to look for all the information we have been sharing all this time.
This article was endorsed by the 121st Speaker of the House, shadowber.