Friday, May 01, 2009

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

Megan McArdle:
It's hard to think about the Federal Budget in terms we can understand. A moderately successful American will, over the course of a forty year career, earn several million dollars. But we don't even see all that money all at once. Numbers a million times bigger than our total lifetime earnings literally boggle the imagination.

One enterprising videoblogger, however, has undertaken to illustrate the impact of Obama's recently announced $100 million in budget cuts:


thinking said...

Of course 100 million dollars in budget cuts is a teeny tiny percentage of the federal budget. Even President Obama admitted that fact.

But it's also true that Pres Obama asked each cabinet level dept to come up with at least 100 million in budget cuts, so in reality it's not just a single 100 million in cuts. Now that still amounts to a small percentage of the budget, but it's a more accurate statement of the Obama initiative. Of course, that's in addition to other cuts being looked at by OMB.

One observation before I move on: it's funny how some conservatives in movements like "Porkbusters" complain about far lesser amounts, and then cite the 100 million dollar figure as trivial. This whole movement against "pork spending" amounts to attacking even smaller expenditures of money.

But moving on: the key is not just to complain about spending; it's to tell us what you would cut. One cannot be serious about budget control unless one tells us what one would cut. Let that become part of the public debate and then people can make a choice based on an analysis of the trade offs.

Just complaining about the deficits is like complaining about obesity without suggesting what to stop eating.

Then there's also the issue of taxes; again, one cannot be serious about reducing the deficit unless one talks about raising taxes and abandons the philosophy many conservatives have that all taxes are evil and that tax cuts are the magic elixir for everything. The Laffer curve does not apply.

So until conservatives lay out a detailed plan of budget cuts, along with some tax increases, I will assume they are not serious about deficit reduction or "fiscal discipline."

Clint D said...

I'd cut 5% of the government over the next 4 years as a start... then I'd lobby like heck for the Fair Tax, so we could eliminate the lobbyist movement in Washington by taking away their life-blood (tax incentives, targeted cuts/incentives, and policy loopholes)

Then I'd implement a plan to privatize Social Security to focus on long term sustainability of our government and to eliminate, eventually, that large one half of "mandatory spending" everyone seems to take for granted and never do anything about.

Nothing can be done in less than 4 years, but our current crop of leadership in the past ~12-16 years hasn't really done anything other than squander our economic booms and spend themselves into oblivion - especially Bush and now Obama.

Clint D said...

btw - that was 5% per year over the next 4 years. They have gotten automatic raises on budgets for far too long. They can figure out how to radically trim programs.