Budget

Hacking Away at the Budget Is the Humane Thing To Do

It's a tragedy that President Trump didn't use this moment to try to cut more, and to cut the biggest unsustainable spending: Medicare and Social Security.

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"Devastating!" shouts Chuck Schumer. Even Republicans are unhappy. Big spending "conservative" congressman Hal Rogers calls President Donald Trump's proposed budget cuts "draconian, careless and counterproductive."

But Trump's cuts are good! Why do politicians always assume that government spending helps people? It always has unintended consequences.

Foreign aid is attached to idealistic notions like ending global poverty and making friends abroad. Politicians also thought that by rewarding countries that behave well, America could steer the whole world toward responsible practices like holding elections and allowing companies (especially U.S. companies) to operate without interference. The young nation of Israel could be propped up with money for its military defense and infrastructure projects.

But today, the U.S. sends money to friends and foes alike, and it's hard to know what those countries do with it. Israel gets billions of dollars—but we give even more money to Israel's enemies.

Money we give to impoverished nations seldom reaches the poor people we want to help. The funds routinely go to the kleptocrat governments that made those countries such horrible places to live in the first place. Our gifts prop up authoritarians, making it easier for them to avoid free market reforms.

We're just as dumb about spending at home.

The Department of Education doesn't teach any kids. It imposes standards on local schools that make it harder for them to experiment. It hires bureaucrats who do endless studies—instead of letting competition show us what teaching methods get the best results.

The Department of Education also promotes government-subsidized student loans that trick students into thinking that no matter which school they pick, no matter their major, they will graduate with useful, marketable skills. Many go deeply into debt just when they should be getting a start in life.

The Department of Agriculture tips American elections. Presidential candidates promise farm subsidies to try to win the early Iowa primary. Politicians say the subsidies will rescue struggling small farms, but they rarely do. Most of the money goes to big, well-connected agribusiness. They shouldn't get subsidies any more than other businesses should.

The so-called "war on poverty" has now cost almost $22 trillion, about three times what we've spent on all America's wars. Yet poverty endures, even as markets and technology should have eliminated most of it.

Before the war on poverty began, Americans were steadily lifting themselves out of poverty. The well-intended handouts increased dependence and stopped that natural progress. They perpetuated poverty.

Obviously, some federal programs do help people. When you spend trillions of dollars, some of it will be put to good use.

But that doesn't mean the Economic Development Administration, "Essential" Air Service, Community Services block grants or even Meals on Wheels deserve a penny more of your taxes.

"There is no magic money tree in Washington," the Cato Institute's Chris Edwards reminds us. At DownsizingGovernment.org, he lists many more programs that ought to be cut. Even when programs do good things, he says correctly, "It is more efficient for the states to fund their own activities—school and antipoverty programs—because doing so eliminates the expensive federal middleman."

Having our money back means being able to pay for things we choose as individuals—including helping out the poor more effectively than the government.

Finally, even areas where Trump wants to boost spending, like the military, should be cut. We spend more on defense than the next seven nations combined—China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the United Kingdom, India, France and Japan.

Are we less likely to be attacked because of it? Less hated? No. Often, our expensive "defense" puts us in harm's way.

Trump and Paul Ryan do deserve credit for demanding that spending increases be offset with cuts elsewhere. But it's a tragedy that they didn't use this moment to try to cut more, and to cut the biggest unsustainable spending: Medicare and Social Security. Not addressing those entitlements today will mean more suffering for the poor and the elderly in the future.

Do the humane thing. Keep hacking away at that budget.

COPYRIGHT 2017 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS INC.

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  1. What part of ‘nothing left to cut’ do you not understand, Stossel?

    Do you want a return to those dark days when our children couldn’t read, starved to death because of no free lunches, elderly people being discarded onto a passing cart when they outlive their usefulness, and constant invasions by hostile foreign states?

    Well, DO YOU?!

    1. I am not sure about John, but I sure do!
      My free lunch business is not making any money, because the local board demands bribes I can no longer afford.
      The carts I use to collect old people have broken down, and I cannot afford $15.00/hr for repairs.
      However, my munitions business was doing great, but there has been a bit of a dip since January. I could use some more sales.

    2. Stossel forgot eliminating the EPA completely.

      The Climate change hoax is nothing more than a political shell game. It is certainly not a scientific theory based on merit nor any sort of credible evidence.

      Just think of that massive embedded costs that the EPA has foisted on the us economy.

      1. On a complex issue we should assume that the consensus of the experts is more probably right than wrong. The consensus of the experts is that man made global warming is a serious problem that needs to be solved by high taxes on the fossil fuel industry to pay for subsidies for the renewal energy industry, and more government regulations.

        1. And yet, if they really knew what was going on, they’d be able to model it, and using a predictive model, tell us in advance what output each input would generate. Problem is, NONE OF THE MODELS WORK – which means they don’t know what they’re talking about. Remember Algore predicting an “ice free” arctic? That was supposed to happen three years ago.

          As for the “experts” and “researchers” – there’s that little problem of cherry-picked or outright falsified data that got exposed a few years back. If you’re got “scientists” who are faking the data, then you REALLY have no clue what is happening. I don’t mean that as a pejorative. The fact is – WE DON’T KNOW. If the fudged facts are necessary to “prove” man-made climate change – then it’s all a huge scam – a ruse – a deception. But if the data really do show mmcc, then the deception has undermined the real case.

          So if climate change is man-made, and we do nothing, it’ll cost trillions. If it doesn’t exist, or isn’t something we can do anything about, then trying to change the climate costs trillions – for nothing. The only path that gives us an out is if climate change isn’t “real” or can’t be affected and we don’t try to do anything about it. Until we get real data – I’m for that.

      2. On a complex issue we should assume that the consensus of the experts is more probably right than wrong. The consensus of the experts is that man made global warming is a serious problem that needs to be solved by high taxes on the fossil fuel industry to pay for subsidies for the renewal energy industry, and more government regulations.

        1. Experts like Ehrlich re overpopulation……amirite. Hah hahahahaha hahahahahaHAAAA hahaha.

    3. I don’t want to go on the cart!

      1. Oh, don’t be such a baby.

    4. Are you totally clueless. 50 years ago America was the best educated most prosperous nation on earth. Today our education system is one of the worse and families that are falling below the poverty level is increasing daily. We as a peace loving nation kill 100s of thousands of innocent people around the world and rights are being stripped away daily. What does all of this have in common. A big bloated out of control government that answers to none except a handful of multinational corporations that finance these bastards campaigns.

      1. A big bloated out of control government that answers to none except a handful of multinational corporations that finance these bastards campaigns.

        – simplybe

        The way to end that problem is to end corporate financing of political campaigns, and begin government financing of political campaigns. Other democracies do that, and it works.

        1. Back to DU with your sorry, dead thread-fucking ass, dipshit.

    5. A $4 Trillion budget and there’s “nothing left to cut”?

      $4 Trillion is a whole lot of nothing.

      1. *looks upthread*

        Did I get two consecutive *wooshes* or am I the one with a broken sarc-o-meter?

        Sometimes it’s hard to tell.

        1. Just a couple of the nuLibertarians NuReason’s reaching out to.

          NuReason
          Monitored Minds and Managed Markets

  2. “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one that is striking at the root.” – Thoreau

    1. When it comes to hacking at government spending branches, after cutting all the branches you will get to the root sooner or later.

    2. Thoreau neglected to mention that there are tens of thousands spreading fertilizer around the evil tree.

  3. Where’s the “Judge”?

  4. All that government spending’s worked out pretty good for government, so what’s the problem? Spending a thousand dollars for a loaf of bread sounds inefficient, but if it ain’t your money and giving away thousand-dollar loaves of bread makes you look like a caring and compassionate humanitarian then it’s money well spent.

  5. EARLY LINKS! ANARCHY!

    Why Letting Go, for Trump, Is No Small or Simple Task

    WASHINGTON ? President Trump is a man seriously susceptible to snagging himself in the nettles of obsession. In the last three weeks, no compulsion has so consumed his psyche, and his Twitter account, as the deeply held and shallowly sourced belief that President Barack Obama tapped his phones. So why can’t he just let go?

    First, aides say that Mr. Trump, who often says, “I’m, like, a really smart person” in public, is driven by a need to prove his legitimacy as president to the many critics who deem him an unworthy victor forever undercut by Hillary Clinton’s three-million-vote win in the popular vote.

    Another explanation is, of course, malignant narcissism.

    “He’s deeply, deeply insecure about how he’s perceived in the world, about whether or not he’s competent and deserves what he’s gotten,” said Tim O’Brien, author of “TrumpNation,” a 2005 biography that documented his early years.”There’s an unquenchable thirst for validation and love. That’s why he can never stay quiet, even when it would be wise strategically or emotionally to hold back,”

    https://tinyurl.com/lvannzh

      1. Oh Tu Quoque, is there anything you can’t do?

  6. The so-called “war on poverty” has now cost almost $22 trillion, about three times what we’ve spent on all America’s wars. Yet poverty endures, even as markets and technology should have eliminated most of it.

    – John Stossel

    Markets and technology are eliminating jobs. They destroy jobs that most people are able to learn. Consequently they are increasing poverty

    1. Automobiles are increasing poverty! They are destroying jobs people are able to learn. We must stop this progress and help the horse and buggy people.

  7. John Stossel, you have posted a rambling article without reference to sources other than yourself. How can we take you seriously without any documentation? I find this typical of ‘Reason’s’ articles. It’s a blowhards paradise.

    1. Libertarianism only makes sense for people who have reason to be confident in their ability to earn a good income with no help from the government. In an economy of steadily diminishing opportunities this is a declining segment of the population.

      1. I DESERVE this income! Give me your hard earned money, so I can sit on my ass and have babies.

        That’s your diminishing opportunities.

  8. Presidential candidates promise farm subsidies to try to win the early Iowa primary. Politicians say the subsidies will rescue struggling small farms, but they rarely do. Most of the money goes to big, well-connected agribusiness. They shouldn’t get subsidies any more than other businesses should.

    – John Stossel

    Then let’s stop subsidizing “big, well-connected agribusiness.”

    Most Americans, including me, are sentimental about family farms. The thought of a family trying desperately to hold onto a farm that has been in the family for generations tugs at our heart strings. We want the government to help that family, even if it does not make good economic sense to do so.

    1. My feelings are good. My feelings are right. My feelings are just. So I’m going to steal your money for admittedly bad economic policy that makes people poorer. Because hey, feelings that are this crystal clear require force.

  9. Trump and Paul Ryan do deserve credit for demanding that spending increases be offset with cuts elsewhere. But it’s a tragedy that they didn’t use this moment to try to cut more, and to cut the biggest unsustainable spending: Medicare and Social Security.

    – John Stossel

    For years public opinion surveys have indicated considerable support for taxing the rich more heavily, and little support for cutting Social Security and Medicare.

    Fewer jobs provide health coverage and retirement benefits. Median income adjusted for inflation has declined throughout this century.

    If the government cannot support Social Security and Medicare at present levels, it should raise taxes on the rich, rather than cut them.

    1. “Median income adjusted for inflation has declined throughout this century.”

      Therefore, we should double down on failed policies! Now that’s the ticket! We’ll just tax our way to prosperity!

  10. yo, dead thread fucker #1 and #2….piss off and back to moveon with your sorry asses.

    1. Fucking earlybird, quit being so smug. Why are you worried about looking bad or losing an argument when everthing is time stamped? Sometimes shit just needs to be said, who cares if it’s days later. Your post shaming of the punctually impaired is most uncool.

  11. Forgot to add medicaid and medicare is why people cannot afford to have doctors come to their house anymore.By coddling the lesser among us, they cannot even imagine how the productive citizens get things done in spite of the government. A free market economy would allow them to test the ideas they espouse, then they would fail and become productive citizens as well. By protecting these people from responsibility, they remain children forever and die in debt. Which is the ultimate act of contempt for their fellow man.

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  13. Cutting Social Security will never work, as long as the 16th amendment exists, there will still be corporate subsidies and payouts. What your asking for is to cut Medicaid and SS, while leaving the 16th amendment in place. As long as I owe the Feds any part of my income, I’m going to be seeing a return on my investment. Corporate handouts to crony capitalist’s is not my idea of a return. Until the 16th amendment goes, Medicare, Medicaid and SS aren’t going anywhere. If it works any other way, be prepared for an all democratic house and senate.

  14. Do the humane thing. Keep hacking away at that budget.

    Keep? LOL All he has proposed is hack a bunch of things to bloat up the defense spending.

    Drumpf and Paul Ryan do deserve credit for demanding that spending increases be offset with cuts elsewhere
    Because talk is cheap, it must be good?

  15. If the government cannot support Social Security and Medicare at present levels, it should raise taxes on the rich, rather than cut them. IMO for pc and Tubemate for pc

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