cut the spending

Paul Krugman says that the emphasis on tax cuts and “starving the beast” is not producing the intended result of reducing spending.  He’s right about that. Tax cuts are important, but they are only half of the equation. We really need to emphasize this more; because as valuable and useful as tax cuts are to stimulating the economy, there cannot be fiscal responsibility without reducing spending. This is a hard truth to accept for most politicians. It would be hard to find any of them who are willing to make tough choices about what programs need to be cut.  The easier choice is to support tax credits or cuts, than to say look, we are spending too much money and wasting the majority of the money being spent.   This is what must be done if our country is to be saved from the impending financial doom.  The time is now to fix what’s broken.

Reforming the system will not be an easy task. Government programs will always be ineffective and wasteful. If those programs actually solved problems, the need for them would go away completely or it would be greatly diminished.  Government jobs depend on the existence of these programs, and the employees will fight like mad to keep their comfortable existence on the federal payroll. 

Look to Greece for an outstanding example of this.  Who is protesting the government over there over their fiscal chaos?  It is government workers, upset about their potential loss of benefits and the entitlements granted to them by the beneficent socialists in their bureaucracy.  Once government dependents are created, Pandora has already escaped from the box, and there’s no return to normalcy after that.  While Paul Krugman may be correct that the U.S. is not Greece, I would argue that he underestimates the potential for a similar financial disaster.   As the cliché goes, the first step is to admit there’s a problem – and the U.S. has a spending problem.  It has a debt problem.  We have had massive debt and spending under both Republican and Democrat administrations.   It is way past time for both parties to seriously address these problems.

May I remind my colleagues on the left that deathbed conversions are still conversions?  Republicans know that the idea of reducing spending and reducing taxes is politically popular, so naturally they want to let voters know that they support both of those things.  But it’s hard to take any politician seriously on reducing spending who can’t point to specific programs or services that they want to cut.   In addition, no politician running for re-election will tell you that Social Security and Medicare are in desperate need of reform.  There is a huge bloc of seniors who vote, and want nothing to do with any future reform of these entitlements.  But it must be done – and we need to start this process now.

The federal government is broke.  It has no money for all these new and exciting programs that the Obama administration has introduced.   Since we are the big bad USA, we don’t force ourselves to make (or pretend to make, in the case of Greece) tough spending cuts or insist on tax hikes to pay for all this new spending.   Don’t misunderstand my position here.  I strongly oppose tax hikes, especially in this economy, because in the absence of any necessary fiscal discipline, this will only increase the pool of money available to create a bigger, badder, welfare state.  Krugman accuses those of us trying to warn the rest of America that we could end up like Greece as wanting to dismantle the welfare state.  Guilty as charged, Mr. Krugman.  It’s the most compassionate thing to do for my fellow Americans — force them to take responsibility for their own lives.  Some may fail spectacularly, and some may succeed, and it’s not the government’s job to equalize those outcomes.


We Are Not Greece– Paul Krugman
Facing the Facts: We Are Out of Money, Matt Welch, Reason

bush the second

There’s another compassionate conservative who wants to claim the title of the new and improved version of George W. Bush — Mike Huckabee. Huckabee has those valuable social conservative credentials. He’s pro-life, pro-gun, pro-family. He’s also very personable. People like him…and why not? What’s not to like about a Southern Baptist minister with a gift for gab and enough folksy sayings to fill a daily calendar? I have no doubt that he would put a high priority on originalist SCOTUS picks and that he would push for a Federal Marriage Amendment. Unfortunately, those with the view of government’s role in our lives that Dubya and Mike Huckabee share can’t possibly commit to responsible spending or small government. The reason I don’t trust Huckabee on spending is not just because the Club for Growth and CATO panned his Arkansas record.

Jennifer Rubin(NRO)(emphasis mine):

He was not the poster child for smaller government. During his tenure, the number of state government workers in Arkansas increased over 20 percent. Under Governor Huckabee’s watch, state spending increased a whopping 65.3 percent from 1996 to 2004, three times the rate of inflation, and the state’s general obligation debt shot up by almost $1 billion. As Grover Norquist quipped, “We like chubby governors and skinny budgets. Not the other way around.” The massive increase in government spending is due in part to the number of new health programs and expansion of existing ones, including ARKids First, a state program to provide health coverage for 70,000 Arkansas children. Spending on ARKids alone increased 69 percent over a five-year period. Huckabee says it is worth it. He proudly states: “ARKids First is without a doubt, the program I am most proud of. This provides health insurance to tens of thousands of children who didn’t have access to health care before. Instead of a total government approach, this requires deductibles and copays and therefore some personal responsibility. Children can’t learn if they are sitting in class with a toothache, fever, or they can’t see the chalkboard.”

Those are some scary numbers for fiscal conservatives who have been disappointed in President Bush’s recklessness on government spending. Bush seems to be getting the message too late, but at least he’s going in the right direction now. With Huckabee, you don’t really know which Huckabee you will get as President — the one who cut taxes and who was named a “friend of the taxpayer” in his first term, or the one who massively increased government spending and the number of state workers. That’s something to think when trying to decide whether Huckabee is the right guy to put in charge of the bloated federal bureaucracy we already have in D.C.

The similarities with Bush don’t stop with spending. Huckabee is also sympathetic to illegal immigration, just like our President. He is saying all the right things about securing the borders, no amnesty, etc…but when he defends giving in-state college tuition to illegals with good grades, that’s something that might raise a few eyebrows with those opposed to any kind of benefits for non-citizens, even if it was the parent, not the student, who broke the law. He says that his proposal asked those students to apply and become citizens in order to get the tuition reduction, but it’s not clear whether this was a requirement or simply a request. I’m not saying that any of the other presidential candidates are much more solid on illegal immigration. I’m just surprised that so many social conservatives who also care about illegal immigration choose to gloss over Huck’s conflicting views on the subject.

If you liked the Bush presidency, then Huckabee’s your guy. It’s all a question of priorities, I guess, because there isn’t one candidate out there who can make us all happy.

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