Please, Cut the Budget! (Just Not the Parts I Like)


Just about everyone likes, or at least claims to like, fiscal responsibility. A lot fewer people like it when it involves cutting their favorite programs and services. Which means that come budget time, there's frequently a lot of special pleading in Washington. In the L.A. Times, Michael Kinsley lists the formulaic elements that drive a lot of that special pleading:

Whether it takes the form of an op-ed piece, a speech, a press release or an open letter to the president, there are certain familiar elements. Among them:

1. Expression of general support for deficit reduction. Reference to easy answers (there are none). Reference to burden (all must share).

2. Reference to babies and bathwater. Former should not be discarded with latter.

3. This program/agency/tax break is different. A bargain for the taxpayers. Pays for itself many times over. To eliminate or cut would be bad for children/our troops.

4. Cost is small (a) as percentage of total budget; (b) compared with budget of Pentagon; (c) compared with projected cost of healthcare.

5. Optional comparisons to cost of just one jet fighter or 3.7 minutes of war on terror.

6. Names of famous people who support this program or tax cut, especially Colin Powell. Other good names: Madeleine Albright, Natalie Portman, George H.W. Bush (not W), Warren Buffett.

7. This is not about fair, responsible, across-the-board budget cutting. This is about the other side irresponsibly pursuing its ideological agenda, penalizing programs it doesn't like.

This last complaint, usually heard from Democrats about the budget that has passed the Republican-controlled House, is an odd one. If you're looking for places to save money, why wouldn't you concentrate on programs you don't approve of? Equal across-the-board cuts, of good programs and bad programs alike, are the opposite of responsible budgeting.

Anyone still looking for programs to cut should read Reason on how to slash the state and Nick Gillespie and Veronique de Rugy on balancing the budget

Here's budget chef Nick Gillespie on Reason.tv:

NEXT: Another Isolated Incident

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  1. Cut leather jacket subsidies.

    1. But leather jacket subsidies are the only thing that differentiate us from SOMALIA!!!!11

  2. Kinsley really is the only liberal left in America with an IQ above room temperature.

    1. I concur. Used to DESPISE him. I don’t know if he’s changed, or I have, but I’ve come to respect that – at least sometimes – he writes stuff that makes sense, isn’t cloaked in BS rhetoric, and is logical.

      Props – I ain’t gonna argue with that!

  3. I would be remiss not to link to Chait’s take on this video.

    1. I found this comment interesting:

      “If they didn’t lie and mislead they’d have no chance. They have to. If the public really understood the implications of their philosophy 95% (or more) would vote against it.”

      So what share of the votes did the Libertarian candidate get in 2008 ?

      1. I give you guys more credit… The GOP channels libertarian economic policy rhetoric basically verbatim.

  4. “””‘5. Optional comparisons to cost of just one jet fighter or 3.7 minutes of war on terror.””‘

    The obvious answer is to not only cut the item, but also to cut ten fighters and the entire war on terror. The fighters are often defending other countries which should be spending their own money on fighters and the war on terror is an undefined mess

    1. Stop Making Sense


      It’s a zero-sum game – you can’t cut multiple things, esp that cut across ideolical lines!! That’s un-possible, and just plain crazy talk!

      Either cut baby formula for Anchor BAbies? -OR- cut $70gazillion new fart-seeking warheads. Not BOTH!! NEVER BOTH!!

      1. …and, of course, preferably cut *neither*….EVERYBODY WINS! YAY!

  5. The video was visually misleading. They needed to start with a piece of pork that was 60% fat.

  6. It’s cute how he accuses Gillespie of hiding the fact that Gillespie means cut 3.6% each year, right after he quotes Gillespie as saying “you only need to trim 3.6% of each year’s budget.” That sneaky leather-jacketed bastard is now hiding things in plain sight. Devious!

    1. That’s in response to Tony’s link to Chait.

  7. Can we see the out-takes where you slice your thumb off and go spurting blood all around the kitchen?

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