Brantley misses the point, it is time to cut spending dramatically

Max Brantley wrote on the Arkansas Times Blog:

REPUBLICANS: BOTH SIDES NOW: Super committee budget talks having failed because of a Republic refusal to increase taxes on the rich, they have now set about having it both ways. They are now saying, contrary to evidence, that they indeed proposed to raise taxes on the rich.


When the federal government brings in 2.2 trillion and spends 3.7 trillion a year then it is time for dramatic cuts. Taxes should be off the table. He has gone on for months blaming the Republicans for not wanting to raise taxes but spending is the problem.

Take a look at a portion of this article below by Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute:

The budget problem is a spending problem. The Bush tax cuts accounted for just 14 to 16 percent of the massive shift from surplus to deficit over the last decade. According to the Congressional Budget Office future deficits will be massive and rising even with federal revenues above the 40-year average of 18 percent of GDP.

We are spending too much, and not spending wisely. The answer is to cut outlays. Not to give politicians more money, which they also will spend, and not spend wisely.

The failure of the supercommittee should not surprise anyone. Legislators never like making tough decisions. After spending wildly for years, they aren’t prepared to cut back.

But reducing outlays is not just an accounting exercise. It requires Americans to rethink what they want the U.S. government to do at home and abroad. Only if they decide to have Washington do less can Washington spend less.

First, Social Security and Medicare should be narrowed to focus on the poor. No more middle class welfare. If you can afford to care for yourself, you collect no more federal checks. And the young should be allowed to opt out of the programs, putting money aside for their own retirement and health care. Over the long-term this will cut trillions of dollars in unfunded liabilities.

Second, Medicaid should be turned into a competitive voucher program that shares cost savings with frugal recipients. It will never be cheap to provide health care for the poor, but only by changing the program’s underlying incentives can much money be saved. Reforming Medicaid is important for state governments as well as Washington.

Third, the U.S. government should focus defense spending on defense. No more social engineering around the world. No more subsidies for rich states and nation-building in poor ones. No more interventions here, there, and everywhere for no good purpose. Then military outlays could be cut substantially.

Fourth, take these steps and the government would borrow less, reducing interest payments naturally. That would create a “virtuous cycle” of falling outlays, deficits, and debts.

Fifth, toss in big reductions in domestic discretionary spending for good measure. Let people spend their own money for their families and communities. Then government would be left doing the few things that it really should do.

Solving Washington’s budget crisis is simple, but not easy. Only if the American people demand that Uncle Sam do less will he spend less. Ultimately we, not the super committee or anyone else, are responsible for our fiscal future.

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