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My only friend, Leviathan...
Posted by: Jon Henke on Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Bradford Plumer makes a very good point...
I'm a bit confused as to what Congressional Republicans think would make for a better budget. It seems that the two primary objections from President Bush's own party are: cuts to particular programs, and the yawning federal budget deficit, which the budget doesn't really cure.

Okay. But then a sizeable majority of Congressional Republicans have also signed a pledge not to increase taxes. So that solution's out.

Meanwhile, cutting discretionary spending even further will only yield very tiny reductions in the deficit. And Bush's two big entitlement "reforms"—including last year's Medicare bill, which will cost $400 billion over the next five years alone, and his vague hints at a proposed Social Security plan, which will cost $4.5 trillion over the next 25 years—will only expand the deficit by huge amounts. So where is fiscal sanity supposed to fit come from? Fairy-land?
Here's an annotated breakdown of the Federal Budget:

DISCRETIONARY OUTLAYS


  • Department of Defense - $424b --No Republican is suggesting any serious cut to the Military, and--besides--any such suggestion would get short shrift with ongoing military operations.



  • Other Government Spending - $497b -- Fiscal conservatives/libertarians would love to take a machete to this category, but just how useful would such a thing be? The entire non-defense discretionary budget is still only slightly larger than the budget deficit. No, keeping discretionary spending down is important, but it's small potatoes. And even...


  • Supplemental and emergency funding - $--b -- ...anticipated supplemental spending for operations in Iraq/Afghanistan--which, conveniently, has been left blank--is a small portion of the overall budget. No, the real money, and problem, lies in...


MANDATORY OUTLAYS


  • Social Security - $540b -- While the proposed benefit-cut will reduce the long-term burden of this category, the President's proposed quasi-partial-privatization will do nothing to reduce this fiscal burden.


  • Medicare/Medicaid - $539b -- Note:

    An army of Hillary Clintons' couldn't have done more to bring us to the brink of socialized medicine. At this point, if politics were a game, socialized medicine would be in the Red Zone, and SportsCenter would be telling the Republicans "you cannot stop it...you can only hope to contain it."

    So, realistically, the only way the GOP can "control" the cost of medicare/medicaid is by discontinuing the farce of a free market in health care, and taking some structural savings that come with the elimination of administrative costs and/or recouping of those newly-available monies in taxation.


  • Other/Interest - $542b -- This is a grab-bag of welfare programs, social services, veterans benefits, pensions, and--a great deal--interest on the national debt. Mandatory, and--for the most part--politically untouchable...

So, Bradford Plumers' question stands: fiscally conservative/libertarian "limited government" ideals are all well and good. Meanwhile, in reality, where are they going to manifest themselves in a real, sustainable, and effective way?

Because, frankly, I just don't see it.

Plumer writes that "Republicans can't control the deficit. Period." I fear he's right. I fear that Leviathan--with a mighty shove from a Republican President trying to gain an electoral advantage--may have finally reached escape velocity. We can merely watch, sadly, and tinker around the fringes.
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
Ah, but the one idea you miss; THe voters have to be convinced that the removal of those supports won't cause the world to end. we got here over a period of nearly a century... it's not foing to end outright in four or eight years, particularly doing a time of war.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
The question is, Bithead, is it going to start trending better or continue trending worse? It can't get better in any amount of time if we don't take a few steps now. But that won't happen. Human nature requires a crisis to react. I just hope and plan to get the hell out of this country before that day comes. Thanks bunches "greatest" generation. Thanks a lot boomers. In 50 years, in spite of all that you contributed to the success of the country, you still managed to screwed it up royally, and I don't want to pay for it.

 
Written By: David Andersen
URL: http://
I have a very hard time believing that the military budget cannot be cut 25% without damaging our ability to defend ourselves. I write these words without understanding what we spend the money on exactly and in full support of our actions in the Middle East. It just seems, on its face, preposterous.

It goes without saying that our entitlement budgets are wacked.
 
Written By: David Andersen
URL: http://
Human nature needs a crisis to act

Right out of the Democrat playbook.

I meanwhile, hold that a lack of a crisis following the action that the Democrats are wailing will CAUSE said crisis, will ease minds, and allow the action we want.

Consider, please, the Iraqi sistuation. The Democrats have been screaming bloody murder, making all kinds of dire predictions, none of which have come true... the most recent of which was that the Iraq Elections went off on schedule.

The Democrats... the chicken Littles of the outfit, are now scraping bits of sky off their faces as a result with the voting public. The world didn't end.

I suggest the same tactic will work rather well with such as social Security and other government give-aways.

Once the voting public, through exposure to the idea in small doses, understands that the world doesn't end when these programs do.... the rest falls into line.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
I hope you are correct, but I am skeptical. There are plenty of voters who may already realize deep inside that the world will not end, but they really like their particular flavor of subsidy.
 
Written By: David Andersen
URL: http://
It's pretty simple. In the 90's, the GOP stood for deficit reduction. Balanced budgets in fact. They were the reformers. Clinton co-opted that principle and - along with the tech boom - balanced the budget. Bush got selected in 2000 not because he was better on fiscal issues, but because he was not associated with the guy who was caught with his pants down. Even so, more people voted for Gore than Bush.

Bush has never been for a fiscally small government. Not really. On that score, he is a Democrat. And on the personal liberties side, he is for detaining citizens indefinitely, without access to counsel or the courts. Of course, when it comes to a whole host of other issues, as I have noted before, he is a big brother type. (Sex in your bedroom, how you medicate, abortion rights, who you marry, etc.)

So the question remains, and this is a serious question: Why does this self-styled neo-libertarian blog essentially worship at the altar of Bush? OK, you do softly rib him on occasion. But you save your vitriol for the Dems. Yes Bush is a little less restrictive with respect to obscure regulatory provisions, because he represents business. It is not, however, Democracts who would hire jack-booted thugs to haul you away in the middle of the night because your name ended with a vowel or sounded Arabic.

Do you really believe that the Democrats - you know, the gays, the university town folks, the union people, the pot smoking freaks, the effete elite, the gunless - are training secretly somewhere to take your guns away? Really? Do you believe that?

Let's put it this way: When I get locked up without access to counsel or the courts, or when anybody does, I will bet you anything and everything - at least a nickel - that the jailer will is a Republican. Even if I do get access to the courts, a Democratic appointee is much more likely to take account of my right than a Repub appointee.

What the hell happened to the GOP? Why doesn't it care about any rights except for property rights?

The biggest big government power grab in 50 years was the government's claim that it could lock up citizens indefinitely without the right to counsel or the courts. A true libertarian would spend his life crusading against the president who authorized such an action. This blog - as I recall - did not really protest this power grab. It endorsed Bush.



Sad.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Let's put it this way: When I get locked up without access to counsel or the courts, or when anybody does, I will bet you anything and everything - at least a nickel - that the jailer will is a Republican.

Well then, I really wish that they'd get off the stick in your case. After all, you wouldn't want to be proven wrong, would you?

 
Written By: Mark Flacy
URL: http://
THe voters have to be convinced that the removal of those supports won't cause the world to end. we got here over a period of nearly a century... it's not foing to end outright in four or eight years, particularly doing a time of war.
I don't expect it to do so. But you can't really look at the modern paradigm of government, and tell me that we're in a position to reverse that.

Fact is, the general public likes a "responsive" (read: mallable to the demands of special interests) government. So, sure. Such a change would some time, if it were possible. But, as I wrote, I think we've reached escape velocity.

I have a very hard time believing that the military budget cannot be cut 25% without damaging our ability to defend ourselves.
It could probably be cut in half, and we'd still be able to defend ourselves. That extra 200b isn't spent to win fights...it's spent to avoid them.

Once the voting public, through exposure to the idea in small doses, understands that the world doesn't end when these programs do.... the rest falls into line.
Are you kidding? Bush can't even get a majority to go along with a *slight* restructuring of Social Security, and that's with people believing it's a lost cause anyway. Threaten to actually cut the thing, and your party would be out of power for the foreseeable future.

So the question remains, and this is a serious question: Why does this self-styled neo-libertarian blog essentially worship at the altar of Bush?
While I very much agree with your first two paragraphs, MK, the idea that we "worship at the altar of Bush" is a product of your imagination. Let me make this very clear to you: (and I think I speak for Dale and McQ, too) We tend to disagree with the Republicans on a great deal, but we disagree with the Democrats on just about everything. That doesn't mean we "worship" the Republicans. It just means the Republican Party has a *comparative advantage* over the Democratic Party.

Now, I've explained that to you before. Please don't make the mistake again.

Do you really believe that the Democrats - you know, the gays, the university town folks, the union people, the pot smoking freaks, the effete elite, the gunless - are training secretly somewhere to take your guns away?
No, I believe the Democrats are quite openly advocating the reduction of my economic and property rights. Have I been unclear on this, MK? I'm asking.

Oh, and for the record, despite your implication to the contrary, I have no problem with "gays, the university town folks, the union people, the pot smoking freaks, the effete elite, the gunless". In fact, I aspire to be "university town folk", and "elite". And I am gunless. (though, I'd be happy to apply a baseball bat to an offending head, in case anybody wants to take advantage of that fact)

This blog - as I recall - did not really protest this power grab.
I beg to differ. You recall incorrectly.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Are you kidding? Bush can't even get a majority to go along with a *slight* restructuring of Social Security, and that's with people believing it's a lost cause anyway


THe problem here is simple enough; If the party in power whatever party that was, tried to make such changes as we both wat, all at once, they'd be out of power before the echo died. so a deft balance is needed, and a gentle hand.

I suggest to you exactly what I suggested to my own readers some months ago... when so many were arguing that Iraq was a lost cause.

An avalanche is started with a small rock being moved. Just takes time to get it started.

I dare to suggest to you; We WILL see Social Security reform in the next three years. That's the small rock. The avalanche will be a few years behind it.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com
Politically untouchable. Isee over a trillion dollars in potential welfare cuts. SSI/Medicaid is one to start that exceeds 500 billion.

Please explain why people who have never paid into the system should get better better medical benefits than those who worked 40 years to get Meidcare.

Someone should explain and justify why the government has the Section 8 program or wage/earned tax credit program.

Its not that there aren't places to cut its that politicans love money, especially others people money.

There would be cuts if we inserted a provision that for each year the balance didn't balance they would forfeit their salaries and pay a fine of 50,000 each per representative, and 250,000 per senate and a prohibition from running for federal office again.
 
Written By: Thomas J. Jackson
URL: http://
Jon, mk doesn't really care what the truth of your opinions are.

He hates the right and he chooses to come here and try bash you with his prejudices because you disagree with him.

At no time have there been any posts on such prejudice and hatred as he describes. But that does not stop him from bringing it up time and time again. His only argument is based on successive logical fallacies ranging from ad hominem to tu quoque.

People like this call Powell "Mr step and fetch it" (Hesiod). Or they debate how the best methods by which to rape and murder Asian conservatives (Comments on Atrios site after a post on Michelle Malkin which Atrios does not stop, although either you, Dale, or McQ would shut that down fast). Or they out and make fun of the gayness of a journalist (or pseudo one depending on your viewpoint) (DailyKos)

Methinks he doth protest too much

How very stalinistic of him.

 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Read the articles John. They were reports of what happened, but they weren't protests, and they certainly were not made contemporaneous wih the the power grab.

As for your property rights, they won't do you a damm bit of good when your siting in a detention center without the right to counsel or the courts because some government stooge has deemed you a security risk.

Without the right to liberty, ALL other rights are meaningless.

The GOP is for taking away your right to liberty without due process. The Dems are not. If you still vote GOP knowing this, you don't deserve your rights.

My question remains: What the hell happened to the GOP?



 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Reading MKUltra's hysterical rantings I am forced to wonder if he has no knowledge of the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt.
 
Written By: Lance Jonn Romanoff
URL: http://www.ljonn.com/
An avalanche is started with a small rock being moved. Just takes time to get it started.
Yeah, well, avalanches only happen when there is a structural crisis. And then they settle back down to sustainable equilibriums. The only structural crisis I see is a few decades hence, and involves an almost inevitable turn towards socialized medicine.

In the meantime, you're going to have to convince me that the general public will contemplate any significant move towards economic libertarianism. Political will among politicians doesn't amount to a hill of beans, unless there's popular support. And if there was serious popular support, the Libertarian Party would have a presence in Washington.

I dare to suggest to you; We WILL see Social Security reform in the next three years.
Maybe so, and it may even solve some structural problems we do have -- the national savings level, for instance -- but I doubt it's going to put us on a path towards less government.


Please explain why people who have never paid into the system should get better better medical benefits than those who worked 40 years to get Meidcare.
Because they demand it.

If you're looking for a moralist answer of "just deserts", you won't get it from me. Fact is, there exists the popular support and demand for these programs, and they will happen with or without the permission of those who dissent.
Read the articles John
I thought he was clear on his position. Perhaps I was able to read between the lines, because I know Dale better. Regardless, I've been quite voluble about my opposition to the Administrations lack of legal procedures with respect to the Guantanamo detainees. Finally, the Padilla/Hamdi situation came up before I started blogging, and my mention of the case was back in my blogspot days, and referred to this post by Dale.

Fortunately, those decisions have generally been repudiated by the courts, and not codified, so I'm less bothered by it than I would be by any codification of that issue. [the Patriot Act, btw, deals solely with foreigners in that respect]

As for your property rights, they won't do you a damm bit of good when your siting in a detention center without the right to counsel or the courts because some government stooge has deemed you a security risk.
Why should I care where I'll be, after the Democratic Party has taken away all of my property rights? (see, I can do ridiculous hyperbole, too!) Look, these are two disturbing, but isolated--and very unique--cases. I'm more worried about the damage done by imminent domain than I am about indefinite detention. One actually *does* destroy liberty, while the other is only projected to do so...despite the fact that courts strike it down.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
"Political will among politicians doesn't amount to a hill of beans, unless there's popular support."

I don't think, however (as cynical as I am), that political will only follows popular support (though it's true about 99% of the time). I cling to the hope that political will can drive popular support in the right direction. We just don't see it often. I guess I'm waiting for a political 'Messiah.'

 
Written By: David Andersen
URL: http://
Yeah, well, avalanches only happen when there is a structural crisis


Which I submit already exists, given the louder than ever call for tax relief.

I dare to suggest to you; We WILL see Social Security reform in the next three years.

Maybe so, and it may even solve some structural problems we do have -- the national savings level, for instance -- but I doubt it's going to put us on a path towards less government.

A success there could hardly do otherwise. The reaons big government has been the way of things the last 80 years or so is simply because lack of it is seen as a surefire way to failure. I would think a success in reducing the role of Socialist security, would be seen as a lack of predicted failure... at which point the trend toward the reduction of government becomes self-feeding.

Any typos are Copyright (2005) fatfingers, INC.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitheads.blogspot.com

 
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