Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"Freezing government spending" not an easy fix

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) is on CNN right now. He advocated a budget plan which would not touch Social Security or Medicare and would not raise taxes. It would accomplish this by freezing federal spending at its current level for 10 years. A similar plan, called the Penny Plan, which would actually reduce spending by 1% each year for the next six, has been proposed by Rep. Connie Mack (R-FL) and supported by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

Sounds easy, right? Just keep things where they are (or cut a penny), and presto, it's all fixed! No sweat.

This might indeed be a relatively easy, were the United States demographically-stable. Unfortunately, ours is an aging population. In the midst of either DeMint's or Mack's plan, millions of Baby Boomers will retire, further swelling the Medicare and Social Security rolls and of course leading to a huge increase in government spending. Were one of these "freeze" plans in place, there would have to be dramatic cuts in discretionary spending to stay under the caps these Republicans would impose.

Rep. Mack and Sen. DeMint are of course well within their rights to present these cuts. But it is dishonest to present these cuts as easy and painless.

As discussed in my very first post of this cycle, most voters are woefully ignorant about the federal budget. When people don't know anything, it's easy to say "let's just freeze spending" and have voters think "Yeah! The government spends too much already! It would be easy to just not grow for a few years". With our clueless electorate, it just might work.

1 comment:

alex n said...

clearly the solution is to ration health care with an eye towards making the population demographically stable.