February 12, 2011


These cuts barely scratch the surface of our fiscal problems. With deficits like those we’ve been running, a $100 billion-dollar cut is little more than a rounding error.

That said, I’m pleased the Tea Party has scored a major victory in pushing House Republicans to cut at least that amount ”in spending this fiscal year“, but that still leaves us with a deficit larger than any in the Bush years (when that good man’s detractors, including your humble bloggers, were faulting congressional Republicans for their big-spending ways). . . . Indeed, the deficit this year will be at least twice that of any comparable period when we had a Republican president and Congress. To be sure, these cuts represent a step in the right direction, but given the size of the deficit, they amount to little more than a few drops in a very, big bucket.

Indeed, but they also represent momentum. More perspective on just how small they are, though, is here.

UPDATE: Bruce Bartlett thinks the GOP is cutting with an axe. I really don’t think that’s true, but he says that like it’s a bad thing.

What I’d say is that for the time being at least, across-the-board cuts are better than cutting with a “scalpel.” First , scalpels aren’t good for cutting very much at a time. Second, wielded by incompetents, scalpels don’t cut any more precisely. Now, how competent do you think our political class is?

If they cut with a “scalpel,” it’ll mostly be used to carve out exceptions for favored constituencies. I’d rather see an honest axe than a dishonest scalpel.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader John Hyer writes:

To me, this is where we find out if the Republicans are good politicians AND conservative. If they were to propose a 10% across the board cut, and let each department/agency deal with the new reality, they can’t lose. When some guy from the EPA comes out and says that cutting their budget by 10% will lead to massive poisoned water supplies, everyone will roll their eyes. I don’t know a single family that hasn’t cut their budget by 10% and most by 40%, and none of us had to sell our children!!!! Someone in Congress has to learn to address these issues frankly like Christie in NJ. Tell the brutal truth, and let the other guy explain that it’s not fair that his pay only went UP 2%.

Even 5% across the board would be a good start, and even more politically defensible. Then repeat.

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