. . . Conservatives are often accused of “hating government”, and some do. Still, there is a coherent and compelling center-right analysis that doesn’t simply blindly oppose federal spending, but asks of it a few questions:A shockingly sensible approach.
Many government programs currently in existence pass this test. Many on the list of programs and agencies scheduled for cuts do not. I mean, I like the arts. I adore NPR and PBS. But why should some carpenter in Akron who prefers “Duck Dynasty” to “Downton Abbey” be paying taxes so I can enjoy these things? In other cases, I would be willing to bet that the net long-term effect on the welfare of anyone other than those receiving government-funded paychecks was probably close to zero. Then there are the programs which might make sense in some form, but are indefensible as they currently exist. You can make an argument for community development block grants, in terms of developing poor parts of the country that need extra help. But it cannot possibly make sense to offer these grants in every state, even those that are net contributors to the federal budget. Yes, I understand the political arguments for such things -- easier to get New York and California legislators to vote for it. As a policy matter, this is nonsensical. . .
- Can the government actually make this problem better?
- If so, must this problem be solved at the Federal level, or could it be done as easily or better by the states?
- Even if the government might help solve this problem, would the associated costs in terms of loss of freedom, deadweight losses from regulation or taxation, and the declining accountability and manageability of government as it grows, actually be worth the benefit?
Also, Opinion: This Budget Isn’t Dead on Arrival
The practical truth is that the president’s budget sets the tone, direction and parameters of the debate over government operations each year. While members of Congress have a stake in making the public and press think that they are in charge of their own constitutional authority to make spending decisions, they tend to follow the course of the president if he is in the same party as the majorities in the House and Senate.If we had wanted ever expanding and more intrusive government, we could have elected Hillary.
Conservative spending hawks are hailing this budget because they know it is consequential in changing the nature of the debate over the government’s role in American life.
“The people in Washington have mortgages, car payments and bills to pay that depend on government not shrinking,” said Sheila Cole, a former executive director of the Republican Study Committee under then-Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana. “Much of America is tired of their sky-is-falling, big-spending mentality. President Trump is tapping into that sentiment.”
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