Government Spending

Michael Barone: "spending is not popular this year"


Political analyst Michael Barone says that last Tuesday's elections are an indication that government spending, it is not so popular right now. Excerpt:

He knew when to fold

This month three members of Congress have been beaten in their bids for re-election—a Republican senator from Utah, a Democratic congressman from West Virginia and a Republican-turned-Democrat senator from Pennsylvania. Their records and their curricula vitae are different. But they all have one thing in common: They are members of an Appropriations Committee. […]

Their defeats are an indication that spending is not popular this year. So is the decision, shocking to many Democrats, of House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey to retire after a career of 41 years. Obey maintains that the vigorous campaign of a young Republican in his district didn't prompt his decision. But his retirement is evidence that, suddenly this year, pork is not kosher. […]

The Democrat who won the Pennsylvania 12th Congressional District special election opposed the Democrats' health care law and cap-and-trade bills. The Tea Party-loving Republican who won the Senate nomination in Kentucky jumped out to a big lead. The defeat of the three appropriators, who among them have served 76 years in Congress (and whose fathers served another 42), is the canary that stopped singing in the coal mine.

More, including the observation that, unlike today, "past rebellions against fiscal policy have concentrated on taxes rather than spending," here.

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  1. OT: If this leads back to the White House, would it be impeach-worthy?

    Dem lawmaker urges White House to release details on Sestak job.

    What did Obama know and when did he know it?

    1. What is impeachable about Obama musing,
      “Rahmn,we may want to change our National Intelligence Advisor soon.
      That retired admiral guy, Sestak, was an advisor to Bill Clinton. Wonder if he’d be interested?”

      1. I know almost nothing about this, but it sounds like there was a quid pro quo associated with the offer. Not sure whether that’s illegal or not, but, of course, it should be.

        1. A top House Republican may file an ethics complaint against Rep. Joe Sestak if he refuses to give more information about the Obama administration’s alleged effort to get him to quit Pennsylvania’s Democratic Senate primary in exchange for a job.

          Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said his panel is obligated to investigate the claims because they involve three felonies, including offering a bribe and interfering with an election.

          “If Congressman Sestak will not tell us, then to be honest the only choice we have is to deal with this from a standpoint of congressional integrity,” Issa told The Washington Examiner. “Under our ethics rules, either Congressman Sestak is lying, which would be an ethical violation, or he is covering up three felonies by members of the administration, which of course would be an ethical violation.”


            1. Rahming speed!

              1. Sorry America, “you fucked up, you trusted us.”

          1. Are the Republicans dumb enough to try and go after Obama Clinton-style and impeach him?

            Yes. Yes they are.

            1. Anything that prevents the congress from doing “real” work is good in my book.

              1. True.

            2. Impeachment was awesome. I think we should do it every administration. Not like the last ten presidents or more haven’t been impeachable for something or other.

    2. If the only thing that happened was Obama giving a verbal offer to Sestak, the only way someone could get in trouble would be if one of them confessed. I have a feeling that won’t happen.

  2. The Tea Party-loving Republican racist teabagger who won stole the Senate nomination in Kentucky

    I’m only trying to help.

    1. Don’t. You’re making an ass of yourself.

      1. He’s making fun of progressive memes, OM.

      2. @OM

        Any new posts forthcoming on your blog? I check in once in awhile, but haven’t seen anything new in few weeks. Good links you have, though.

    2. So if the MSM just keep repeating over and over that it’s not about spending, it’s about racism will the so called “independents” fall in line for them?

  3. “past rebellions against fiscal policy have concentrated on taxes rather than spending,”

    This a great news. It is easier to hate taxes, since we have to pay them directly, but spending is the more serious problem, because that indicates the amount of capital that is being diverted from private hands to the government. I’d much rather a government that taxes $2 trillion and spends $1 trillion, than one that taxes $1 trillion and spends $2 trillion. The latter will quickly build an unpayable debt.

    1. Progressive tax policy is ultimately the culprit here.

      The people who are voting for the spending, by and large, are not the ones who are being called upon to pay for it.

      This sets up a war between the voters and causes political candidates to have to pander to both sides: Call for more spending, but demand no one pay for it.

  4. ??????
    Trillions in deficits???? For decades????? And spending is not popular???????
    (or cutting spending to equal revenues is not popular)

  5. Gee, ya think?

  6. Political analyst Michael Barone says that last Tuesday’s elections are an indication that government spending, it [sic] is not so popular right now.

    The above is an indication that proper grammar, it is not so popular right now…

  7. I’ve seen the surveys for years saying that voters want smaller government and fewer services, but the support for cutting any actual programs rarely exists (except for foreign aid, a miniscule budget item). When voters are okay with raising retirement ages and cutting the military down to the nub, I’ll be optimistic.

    1. You are just being obtuse, Patriot. You forget about the NEA! By my calculations, if we cut the NEA the deficit will be zero in 80,617 years*.

      *Actual calculation, no lie.

    2. I don’t think many people are going to be okay with cutting the military down to the nub because they understand, unlike some libertarians and nearly every liberal, that there are people and countries in the world that you really don’t want to meet.

      1. And that requires us to spend more than every other country in the world, combined?

        1. Yes because we have a much lower tolerance for risk than many countries. Also, a lot of those people get out of spending money because we defend them. Of course the paleocon isolationists will tell you how horrible that is. And they said the same thing during the cold war. Fuck Europe let them defend themselves. Fuck Korea and Japan. Fortunately we didn’t take that advice and not only were those countries saved from communism, but also our standard of living was greatly improved by them remaining free. Defending Europe and Japan was the best investment we ever made. We benefit more than anyone from the world being stable and relatively free. And we are the only country that can do much to ensure that.

          1. While Putin is a major league asshole, I don’t think he’s so stupid as to invade other European countries. It’s a different time, and we’re defending coutrnies that can pay for their own defense against non-existent threats.

            1. He might go into Eastern Europe. But I generally agree. And I also generally agree about Europe. Europe just isn’t that important anymore. But we still need a navy and the ability to project power. That said, we have very few people in Europe anymore. I would be surprised if there are 40K left in Europe. Hardly enough to make much of a difference on the budget deficit.

          2. John, to me it isn’t that the military doesn’t fulfill a need, it is the scope that bothers me.

            It seems that we are already head and shoulders above everybody else militarily, and that substantial cuts could be made without endangering us or our allies. Also if you think about the wars we have fought since WWII, our huge technological advantage is undermined by more mobile and fanatical enemies.

            1. No our huge technological advantage forces our enemies to fight low intensity wars instead of high intensity ones. If we gave that away, our enemies would go back to confronting us on the battlefield and we would be back to having real wars again. No thanks. I will take my chances against an insurgent force any day over having to fight a real high intensity kinetic conflict.

              1. I wouldn’t advocate reducing our military to be at parity with any other nation on Earth. You seem to be arguing against any cuts, though. Besides, what enemy since the cold war ended has the resources to fight a modern conventional war?

                China, may have the money to, but the run-up would take a long time. And, I don’t think they want to nuke their best customer. Russia probably has the infrastructure, but I don’t think it is in their best interest to start WWIII, or ours.

                That leaves our towel-headed friends in the middle east. Who among them has the resources to fight a “real war” against the U.S. Or even the U.S. military at, say, 50% of its current size.

                1. I forgot NKorea, which most likely has the biggest military of an actual enemy.
                  I think a war against them would be like the first Gulf war, which before hand everyone was concerned about Iraq having the “Fourth largest military in the world.

      2. True, but we don’t need to pay for Europe’s defense. They’re old enough to pay for it themselves. Let’s keep a couple of bases open staffed by skeleton crews, and get the rest of our guys the hell out of there.

      3. Wouldn’t it be easier not to meet them if the US stopped sending soldiers to their countries and wrecking their homes?

      4. I don’t think many people are going to be okay with cutting the military down to the nub because they understand, unlike some libertarians and nearly every liberal, that there are people and countries in the world that you really don’t want to meet.

        Most people worldwide believe this, but the country they don’t want to meet is the United States of America, currently running more wars and butchering more innocent people than any other nation on Earth.

        But oh, they hate us for our freedoms.

        1. Yes we just butcher people. We all got together and went into Iraq and Afghanistan for sport. And when we did, we went to war the way Russia or China would and just mindless leveled entire cities and killed millions. And no other country came with us. And none of our actions had any sanction under international law. Nope, it was just like Germany invading Poland. I especially like the program to move the Arabs out of Iraq and give it away to American colonists. It is modeled on the Chinese colonization of Tibet.

          You have truly have no idea of what is going on in the world beyond your own self loathing.

          1. Who is running more wars than anyone else? The US. What are those wars looking to accomplish? No one knows. Who is currently killing more innocent people in war than anyone else? The US.

            “Hey, we’re not China!” isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of our goodness or the wisdom of our wars. So, I’ll just put you down under the “not serious” column, where I suspected you belonged.

            1. Who is currently killing more innocent people in war than anyone else? The US.

              I don’t know. You never hear much news about Chechnya. It is an invisible war as far as news reporting in the US goes. Plus North Korea and South Korea look to be pushing for a mega-death war.

              Iraq and Afghanistan being the current most lethal is more of a coincidence of history rather then some nefarious condemnation of the US in general. Also the fact that these relatively small wars are the worse going on in the whole world is actually a sign that we live in very peaceful times.

      5. The military, just like every other government agency, is inefficient. There is likely billions of dollars that could be cut from the budget that would have no negative effect on our “national security.” This does not include such wasted expenses such as nation building and maintaining bases all around the world that do little to keep us safe and more than likely make us less safe.

        “unlike some libertarians and nearly every liberal”

        You mean liberals such as Woodrow Wilson, LBJ, Bill Clinton and Obama? Sorry but an expansive foreign policy that includes preemptive war and nation building is a liberal heritage.

        1. I would say nearly every post Vietnam liberal. I didn’t mean every liberal in history. You are correct that many liberals before Vietnam were quite strong on defense. It was only after Vietnam that liberals joined the Paleocons in the Get the US out of North America party.

          And as an aside, the Germans pretty much drug the US into World War I. It wasn’t Wilson who was promising Mexico the SW back if they invaded the US. And it wasn’t Wilson who was interfering with international trade via unrestricted submarine warfare. Wilson was a terrible President for a lot of reasons. But getting the US into World War I was not entirely his doing and should not be held against him.

    3. Problem is that everyone one has their pet programs that they don’t want cut. I want goverment cut except for “insert issue here”. Could be military, education, social security, cancer research, whatever. So whenever they actually do try and cut something, their going to piss off at least one large group of people. Of course the media will also rant and rave 24/7 about what a bunch of heartless bastards they are until everyone gets sick of it and it just gets dropped. Then straight back to the status quo.

      1. The biggest problem is that about half the people in the country don’t pay any federal income taxes.

        They don’t want anything to be cut since they aren’t paying for it anyway and like getting stuff free.

        1. Also, pretty much every liberal I know doesn’t have kids (I know that’s not universally true so relax). But it sure helps those people that I’m talking about, that they don’t have to worry about leaving a bunch of debt to everyone elses children and grandchildren since their not theirs.

          1. “Also, pretty much every liberal I know doesn’t have kids”

            That never stops them from trotting out the “we must do it for the children” routine every time they want to create some new giveaway program.

    4. There are four big ticket items: Medicare, Social Security, the military and interest on the national debt.

      Try cutting any of them and see if you make it past the next election. People who say they want “small government” are full of it. What they really want is some other guy’s goodies cut, not their own and not granny’s.

      I say farm subsidies would be a good start, though. I’d like to see a Republican push that one in Kansas, Nebraska or the Dakotas. Farmers tend to be “small government” Republican subsidy suckers.

      1. I agree completely. Even politicians who say we should “cut spending” either do not propose what specific programs they would cut, or they just piddle around the edges (e.g. cut farm subsidies, arts funding etc–not that those shouldnt be eliminated but they are a drop in the bucket). The deficit will not be significantly reduced without cuts to Medicare, SS (through higher taxes and higher retirement ages), and military/defense/”homeland security” spending.

  8. I’ve seen the surveys for years saying that voters want…


    They have no one to vote for who can do any of those things. But it’s still their fault. For being voters. That’s gross.

  9. Spending is taxes. To spend a dollar, the government has to tax a dollar. If we can reign in spending, we thusly reign in taxes.

    1. I think the idea is that if you limit spending, then taxes and deficits will solve themselves. In other words, you can stop the madness with one shot instead of two or three.

      Frankly, I say attack all of the crap at once. Starve the beast and set a 98 ton weight on top of it, too.

    2. Not really. The govt can always borrow more money (for now, though not forever) or crank up the presses and print some more bills.

  10. The hell of it is, the first trillion of spending you cut can’t be matched with tax cuts, because of the damn deficit. So you have to do something hellaciously unpopular, without doing anything popular.

    Its the fundamental flaw of the Gingrichian “starve the beast” approach: deficit spending doubly entrenches spending.

    1. The Laffer curve will save us all!!!

      Cut taxes! Cut them to the bone!!!

  11. It’s pretty simple, actually. The public’s appetite for government spending will continue unabated until there are readily apparent negative consequences from it. We’ve been sheltered, so far.

    The real question is whether our inevitable default and economic collapse turns us into Switzerland or into Argentina.

  12. Haven’t read through the comments, but does anyone actually think the common link of Appropriations Committee has anything to do with these congressmen not being re-elected? The average voter in these elections probably had no idea that these people are on the Appropriations Committee. I have no idea if I’m correct, but I just don’t think the average voter would know these types of things. Not sure what the conclusion to draw is, but I don’t think it has anything to do with the Appropriations Committee.

    1. No, I don’t think it does, either. If anything, the election of John Murtha’s protege indicates that the Power of Pork is still quite strong.

  13. past rebellions against fiscal policy have concentrated on taxes rather than spending

    This is not true.

    Perot mostly criticized spending. In fact one could argue that his argument lead to the short but sweet balanced budgets we enjoyed in the lat 90s.

  14. Newt Gingrich had a lot more to do with the balanced budgets of the 90s then anything Perot said. Perot was beaten by Al Gore in the NAFTA debate. Al Gore! A tree could beat him in a debate, but not Ross Perot.

  15. pork is not kosher

    Indeed it isn’t.

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