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 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.

Update: There's 17 "pending comments" over at the HuffPo. Click through and leave your own pending comment why dontcha?

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  1. I will await the comments on Huffpo.

    1. 23 comments and rising!! Neckbeard must be sick today.

  2. I’m not fucking on a link to Huffingglue Post.

    1. Clicking on…fucking on…it’s all the same nowadays.

  3. I’m now convinced that the Kochtopus has controlling interest in AOL.

    1. They’re supposed to be nefarious, not stupid.

  4. I’m sure the Huff Po commentators’ posts will be nothing but insightful and respectful.

  5. “comments: 0, pending comments: 8”

    Does this mean huffpo has some sort of neckbeard moderator who views every comment before it is posted? I was really hoping to see some delicious tears there…

    1. Are you saying neckbeards aren’t trustworthy?

    2. Apparently neckbeard hasn’t awoken yet. There are 12 comments waiting for him to approve.

      1. Up to 23 now.

        I imagine there are so many pages of inappropriate vitriol that the comments can not be approved for posting.

        1. It appears that they are not going to put up any comments. The story has been up on the site for 4 hours, 33 comments pending, none posted. Yet, another story that went online a half-hour before this one has over 1,000 comments posted and none pending.

    3. I see 2 comments now, both from HuffPo “superusers”. One of them claims that Medicare and SS are fully paid for, and that they do not increase the deficit (no, really, read it).

  6. As someone who considers himself a liberal it’s very sad that with this nation in a spending cutting mood the so-called represenatitives of my ideology can’t come up with any. Liberalism has to be about something more than just spending other people’s money for crying out loud.

    1. Uh, where have you been the last 20 or so years? Neither team is about anything other than spending other people’s money.

      1. That’s a bit hyperbolic.

        1. Prove it wrong.

          1. Well both parties are also about controlling peoples lives in ways that the government has absolutley no business doing. So it’s not all about the money.

        2. Really? So our spending has dropped? I hate to ask, but do you have somewhere that I can view this data showing spending dropping or even just some data showing major cuts by either party.

  7. I mean, if only for political gamesmanship Obama should trumpet a budget with significant cuts in defense spending and corporate welfare (it’s not like he’s going to lose Iowa either way in the nomination process).

    1. Why would he do that? He’s too busy buying people off in the first place.

      1. And he wonders why he’s so unpopular…

        1. I mean really, that strategy hasn’t exactly worked as far as keeping his party in power, so why not try a little principle?

          1. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that principle is utterly foreign to him.

            1. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that principle is utterly foreign to him politicians of all stripes.

            2. When Jerry Brown ran in 92 he often spoke of why the national debt was an issue liberals should be very concerned about. Who pays the interest? You me and our kids. Who gets that interest? Often big companies. It’s a huge transfer scheme in some respects.

              But he also pushed a flat tax designed by Laffer with the nutty idea that a simple, flat tax with no mountain of loopholes only the rich can effectively exploit is better than the current one. That was, of course, decades ago…

              1. I used to argue with Joe from Lowell that complex tax laws benefit rich people because rich people can afford tax atorneys and rich people can afford to make very large donations to legislators.

                The best way to capture income taxes from rich people is to reduce the tax rates and then wipe out all deductions.

                1. Or how about considering the Fairtax, which wipes out the income tax altogether and taxes consumption? It’s easier to understand, much less prone to fraud, doesn’t waste huge amounts of money on tax prep firms, and makes paying taxes quick, easy, and transparent. And you’ll still get more money from the “rich people” as they tend to spend more than the poor.

          2. why not try a little principle?

            Why? Because we can barely pay the interest. No way we’re getting to the principle.

    2. You can’t cut spending when you’re furiously shoveling money into Wall Street at a breakneck pace.

    3. Except for the open dirty little secret that the Left’s political class likes corporate welfare, as it gives them a lever of influence over big business.

      1. And they just frame it different when you get to specifics. So the left derides how corn subsidies negatively effect our food production and diets but when it comes time to cut them they wail about the poor Farmers and get Willie Nelson to embarrass himself in charity concerts.

        Also they have followed this idea of defending themselves from appearing “weak” on defense and law enforcement by upping the funding on anything remotely related to either. It’s sad.

        1. And the drug war. It’s a great way for a liberal to strike a tough pose.

        2. You left out the part about how cutting subsidies to ADM for ethanol fuels makes Mother Gaia cry.

          1. Whatever happened to the roadside Indian?

      2. Corporate welfare from Democrats usually comes in the form of targetted tax cuts or credits for either “good” products or behaviour or to “create jobs”. That way they can always claim it’s not there to profit their cronies but for the good of society or the workers. They will deny with their dying breath that any of it is corporate welfare.

        Anyone who thinks corporate welfare is going to end during a period when the Dems control both the executive and legislative branches is not a good observer of history.

    4. If he was interested in gamesmanship, he should come up with a several hundred billion of cuts to Democratic sacred cows, and challenge the Republicans to match him.

      He won’t do that, though, because he is a politician and craves power, and anything that might upset his ‘base’ (whatever the fuck that is) will make him all trembly at the prospect of losing power.

      Our fiscal crisis won’t get resolved until the bond market forces it down our throats – and by our I mean the citizens of the country and not the no-talent assclowns the keep the seats warm in the two chambers of the capitol building.

  8. 2 cleared. 34 waiting approval.

    1. I am not sure that those two “cleared”. Both were posted by “Superusers” so those comments might have bypassed the approval process.

  9. This is 1 of the 2 permitted comments:

    Why do you need to cut Social Security and Medicare? It is paid for and according to most reports does not increse the deficit.

    So, just post something staggeringly stupid and you should skip the pending queue.

  10. 39 awaiting approval. By tomorrow morning, we should have 5 posted, and 700 that mysteriously disappear. I’m assuming 5 people will actually try to argue with this.

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