The Five Horsemen of the Federal Budget
“Let’s put this simply. 80% of the budget falls into five categories: Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, Defense, Veteran’s Benefits, and Interest on the Debt. EIGHTY PERCENT. So if you don’t tell me what you’re going to be able to feasibly cut in those categories, you are not approaching the problem seriously.
This is especially the case when it comes to defense spending. Let’s face it: you can’t argue for more military spending AND a lower federal budget. If the Glenn Becks and Rush Limbaughs of the world want me to take them seriously on controlling federal spending, they shouldn’t have howled when Bob Gates didn’t increase defense spending this year as much as the rest of the Pentagon wanted him to.” ~Alex Knapp, responding to Ross Douthat and the Tea Parties
Outside the Beltway is a great blog – always a good read: clear, concise, and not shouty. In other words, like Douthat, exactly my type of conservative blog despite any ideological differences James or Alex and I may have. And on this matter, I can’t help but agree. It’s all well and good to want lower spending, but what exactly are we going to cut? I would argue for defense cuts first and foremost, but I’m not a totally unrealistic person. As Buddy Holly once said: That’ll be the day…
Beyond defense are the entitlements – Social Security, Medicaire, Veterans Benefits – that many Americans would be loathe to part with. Far easier to cry foul than to actually give up the perks of government spending. Few viable alternatives have cropped up to replace the big entitlements, for on thing. They are mostly aimed at social stability and security and if there is anything in this world that people want it’s stability and security. Now more than ever the world feels very unstable. Our brand of capitalism has failed us. Foreign terrorists threaten the very notions of Western Civilization that we hold dear (like Reality TV and Cheetos).
This is not to say capitalism has gotten us into this mess, but we’ve obviously not mastered the art of a stable economy anymore than we’ve nurtured our high culture over our pop culture. Nor have we done a very good job at drawing the line between the public and private spheres.
I wonder what it would have looked like if privatization of our Social Security had been pushed through. Really – what would have happened?
So when somebody can show me a Tea Party that is coherently working out ways to actually reduce both spending, taxes, and debt maybe I’ll whistle a different tune. Probably once upon a time these Parties were against massive defense budgets, too, but now that they’re part of the mainstream I seriously doubt this is the case any longer.
I’ve written elsewhere on some of my ideas to reduce the federal government’s involvement in our lives, and I think that the national security apparatus is the place to begin – including but not limited to defense, domestic spying and other invasive “security measures” that essentially erase our civil rights.
I’m much more worried about the Department of Homeland Security and the Patriot Act than I ever have been about the Stimulus package. The tentacles of government are more troubling when they have the power to indiscriminately lock up suspected terrorists and then not provide them any due process. How about we protest that, or perhaps the use of torture? Aren’t these greater threats to our liberty, our dignity, and America than upping the taxes a tiny bit on the top 2% of Americans?