Reasoners in HuffPo: De Rugy & Gillespie on Prioritizing Spending Cuts


So Dems aren't interested in cutting spending much and Reps are mostly falling over each other not to cut defense or entitlement spending. Which is to say, they're not so interested in cutting spending either.

What to do, especially since according to the historical record, we can expect about revenues to come in around 18 percent to 19 percent of GDP (total economic activity)?

Reason columnist Veronique de Rugy and Reason.com/Reason.tv Editor in Chief Nick Gillespie lay out a process for consensual budget cutting in the Huffington Post:

David Osborne, the former head of Vice President Al Gore's "Reinventing Government" task force, is a believer in what he calls "budgeting for outcomes." As an advisor to various cash-strapped state and local governments, Osborne pursues a two-step strategy to fixing out-of-whack budgets. First, and most importantly, you set "the price of government." That is, you figure out how much money you can spend in a given year. When it comes to the federal government, we have a strong sense of how much revenue will be available based on the past 60 years of experience and the CBO's projection: It will be around 19 percent of GDP.

The next step is to clearly establish the top priorities of the government. In rank order, what are the most important things that the federal government needs to be doing and what are the things it can pull back from? For example, Sen. Rand Paul's plan [to reduce spending by $500 billion this year] cuts federal education spending by 83 percent while cutting defense 6.5 percent. Do taxpayers share those priorities? The strength of Osborne's approach is that it builds consensus even as it makes government decision-making more transparent.

Once the cost of government and its rank-ordered priorities are established, spending decisions become much easier both to make and to defend before a voting public. And the public isn't shrinking from the conversation. Indeed, a January poll from CBS News found that 77 percent of Americans favor balancing the budget by cutting spending, compared to 9 percent who wanted to raise taxes. Majorities say they in favor of means-testing Social Security, reducing farm subsidies, and cutting defense spending. It's time to those sentiments to the test. If we don't, we'll be facing higher taxes, higher spending, higher debt, and almost certainly higher interest rates and dollars that are worth less and less.

Read the whole thing, including an easy to grok chart, here.

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