John McCain

Halt, Big Spenders

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It was the Democratic Congress' dipping into Social Security funds that really rocketed the growth of federal spending; it's been the use of "emergency spending" by the Bush era GOP Congress that expedited the flight of billions and billions of dollars into Iraq. According to Roxana Tiron at The Hill, that latter bit of Congressional chicanery may be coming to an end.

An increasing number of lawmakers have said lately that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are no longer unexpected expenses and that their costs should be calculated as part of the regular Pentagon budget.

Defense authorizers in particular have grown frustrated at the ballooning wartime funding because they were not able to exercise any scrutiny over it. Congress last month passed its ninth supplemental spending bill since 2001.

Sen. John McCain is involved, so this might turn out to be one of those quick headline-grabbing moves that never comes to fruition. But the fact that anyone at all is discussing it indicates that congressmen are 1)increasingly frustrated with the war in Iraq and groping for a way to show it and 2)hearing from their constituents about sky-high federal spending, and scared enough to act.

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  1. or, it might just be that there’s an election afoot, and that voters jest LUV hearing nice proper words like “fiscal responsibility” when they’re trying to decide which fiscally irresponsible assbag to vote for.

  2. “Defense authorizers in particular have grown frustrated at the ballooning wartime funding because they were not able to exercise any scrutiny over it.”

    If by “scrutiny” we mean “earmarking.” What’s the point of spending all that money, if you can’t claim credit for it?

  3. “Sen. John McCain is involved, so this might turn out to be one of those quick headline-grabbing moves that never comes to fruition.”:

    Let me guess – Arlen Spector is on board, too.

  4. It was the Democratic Congress’ dipping into Social Security funds that really rocketed the growth of federal spending;

    Good Lord, learn some economics.

    The are no Social Security funds, and there cannot be Social Security funds no matter how much you might want them. The Government cannot save. Saving would amount to taking money out of circulation, causing the economy to starve for money, and the Fed simply replacing it and putting the same amount back in circulation.

    All tax receipts must be instantly returned to circulation.

    A large part of the Treasury’s work is taking money out of circulation and putting it in circulation to compensate for irregular tax receipts as the year goes on.

    What you want is to eliminate non-useful government spending in general, which has nothing to do with Social Security specifically.

    Social Security is a nice program, chiefly because it’s a safe inflation-protected annuity. You can’t outlive your SS income, and the annuity provider will not go belly-up on you like private insurers.

    To fix the SS problem, which isn’t a problem since it’s so easy to fix, is raise the retirement age so that the number of workers is able to support the remaining retired people. This age needed will change depending on demographics, but it’s not difficult to figure out.

  5. The are no Social Security funds, and there cannot be Social Security funds no matter how much you might want them.The are no Social Security funds, and there cannot be Social Security funds no matter how much you might want them.

    What you say is absolutely true. The notion that the SS surplus is in some “savings account” to be used to pay future beneficiaries is a lovely fiction.

    However it is worth noting that for many years the “surplus” was counted as revenue and spent, thus creating the illusion that the deficit was much lower. The only thing the “lock box” did was itemize SS taxes separately from other revenues (and for that reason was a semi-good idea).

    The question that must be faced, then, is why is the “surplus” necessary in the first place? In other words, since the surplus is not saved for the future and must be “redeemed” by taxation or borrowing in the future, why is the FICA tax so high?

    The answer that we must face is that Social Security has always existed to be primarily a revenue raising scheme and not a pension scheme.

    And that is the true evil of Social Security.

    The solution is to abolish it and replace it with a means-tested income supplement, funded out of general revenues, for old people who are unable to work* and who, through either misforune or inprovidence, have failed to otherwise provide for themselves.

    After all, even people who are ardently in favor of income redistribution believe the flow should be from those who are better off to those who are less well off, not the other way around.

    *Yes, I wrote, “unable to work”. Now that seventy is the new fifty, why is there some magic age when geezers can suddenly decide they can start sponging off of productive folks?

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