Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Govt Bakers: Cutting the Fat? Or Let Them Eat Cake?

Marie Antoinette
Sen. Toomey (R-PA) in the Wall Street Journal claims, "For too many years, Congress has ignored or exacerbated the looming fiscal crisis created by overspending."

Has it? Has it really? We've got a Congress chock full of GOP members telling us we need to cut, cut, cut because we've been "overspending." So where's all this alleged fat to trim?

The Defense Secretary has suggested we may be able to spare about $78 billion from the defense budget, which is a fair slice of savings. For the defense budget that's not all that far over 10% of their piece. As Gates puts it, "not every defense program is necessary". While I'm no military expert, I hear there's some trial and error in designing new programs. That's a low enough percentage that I could imagine chalking up that much in unnecessary projects.

That's nice, but to zero the deficit immediately by cuts alone -- without undoing those tax cuts -- we'd have to cut about a third of our spending ... not just 10% and not just from defense. Various members of Congress have proposed slashing or even eliminating various specific programs. For instance, Rep. Bachmann proposed cutting what we spend on taking care of our loyal veterans, which left a bad taste with just about everybody else. Turns out that for every program they propose chopping, a bunch of people start pointing out good reasons why we need those programs.  There really just isn't that much we can trim from the budget without mayhem.  There may be some waste, but not a full third of everything.

The GOP keeps telling us that if we just charge the wealthy less at the figurative bakery register, they'll buy more cigars, the cigar makers will buy more bread, the bakery will expand, and there'll be more bread to go around. The bakery took in less money and had to borrow money to keep baking our bread. When the Republicans tried to tell us the bakery should just stop supplying whole-wheat to avoid borrowing, we said, "no, the national diet needs whole-wheat". Now the Republicans say the problem is we bake too much cake.

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