November 14, 2010

OKAY, I LIKE THE P.J. Institute’s version better. But that said, even though the NYT’s you-fix-the-deficit calculator offers a somewhat tendentious set of choices, it does successfully convey the message of just how deep a hole we’re in. Here are my choices from their somewhat limited palette of options. I would have cut more military spending had they not “channeled” cuts in particular directions. I also would have cut more federal spending in other areas if allowed. . . .

UPDATE: Prof. Stephen Clark emails:

In looking at your choices, what struck me most was how reasonable they seemed. Yeah, I know, I’m in the choir. And yes, I know that raising the retirement age – meaning raising the age for full benefits – and raising the eligibility age for Medicare and capping Medicare growth will induce howls of disapproval from all the usual corners amplified times 10 by the all the usual media, but I suspect that there might be more willingness to seriously consider these measures than most suppose. I really think proposals like yours await a Christie-like personality in Congress to push something like this forward.

I am a reasonable man. It may be, though, that we need some unreasonable men — and, based on Tea Party experience, more likely women — to push hard enough.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Don Vollum emails:

I think they are sending the wrong message with this calculator– it shows me how easy it is to eliminate the deficit! I was able to do so in a few minutes, even within the constraints imposed by the NYT’s calculator. If I can do it so easily, why can’t the politicians?

That’s a rhetorical question– the answer is that there are not enough opportunities for graft in deficit elimination.

Indeed. If we could change that, we’d be getting somewhere. . . .

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