You may think that we here at Reason have a curious fondness for printing up special issues about cutting government that feature comical death-figures wielding murderous knives. And you'd be right!
Subscribers and donors–hey, wouldja donate to Reason already?–are already enjoying our special COOP-illustrated "Apocalypse 2013" issue, filled with tales of infuriating woe about just how badly mismanaged the nation's finances have become. But let's turn the clock back to an even more infuriating time, and an even more gruesome sight–Katherine Mangu-Ward's terrible hand, wielding a threatening knife in 3-D, to illustrate our November 2010 issue "How to Slash Government Before it Slashes You."
This was before the November 2010 mid-terms, before Rand Paul was in the U.S. Senate, before Republicans even paid lip service to maybe thinking some day about cutting government. My editor's note shows a glimpse of that world gone by:
In July, while publicizing his new book To Save America: Stopping Obama's Secular-Socialist Machine, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was challenged by NBC's Matt Lauer to name federal government programs "you would be willing to cut right now to cut deficits." After some throat clearing about his record in the 1990s, Gingrich offered up this weak sauce: "I would start and I'd go through this budget pretty dramatically and I would eliminate a great deal of federal bureaucracy. I would reform unemployment compensation. I would reform workman's comp at the state level. I would have a very pro-jobs, very pro-savings, very pro-take-home-pay policy." [...]
The interview got worse. "Would you make cuts in Social Security and Medicare?" Lauer asked.
Gingrich: "No, no." [...]
In July NBC's David Gregory put the same question to two allegedly rock-ribbed Texas conservatives, Rep. Pete Sessions and Sen. John Cornyn: "Name a painful choice that Republicans are prepared to say we have to make."
Sessions went first: "Well, first of all, we have to make sure as we look at all we spend in Washington, D.C., with not only the entitlement spending, but also the bigger government we cannot afford anymore. We have to empower the free enterprise system."
An exasperated Gregory tried again with Cornyn, who replied: "Well, the president has a debt commission that reports December the first, and I think we'd all like to see what they come back with."
At Reason, which is published by a 501(c)3 nonprofit that depends on your donations the way that Rocky depends on raw eggs, we are constantly and consciously pushing politicians and thought leaders to grapple with the always timely fact that if we allowed the federal government to grow since 2000 merely at the rate of inflation plus population growth, we'd be talking about surpluses right now. And that you can (and should!) produce economic growth by cutting government. And that reducing government reduces societal tension by reducing the amount of our money spent on activities we personally abhor. And that it makes us more free.
We talk about this stuff practically or philosophically, at the federal or state or local level, on Fox or MSNBC, criticizing Republicans or Democrats, and we do it every living day of the week.
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