The ‘Tea Party Budget’

The “Tea Party Debt Commission” affiliated with FreedomWorks recently released a budget plan (downloadhere). In formulating its plan, the commission took into account fifteen budget plans introduced by various groups and policymakers, including Cato’s Downsizing Government website.

The effort comes in response to criticism – valid in my opinion – that the amorphous tea party movement hasn’t been sufficiently specific on what should be cut from the federal budget. I think the plan is an adequate response to that criticism. The following are some additional comments on the plan’s contents:

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We’ve Had Enough Government ‘Stimulation’

After three years and $4 trillion in combined deficit spending, unemployment remains stubbornly high and the economy sluggish. That people are still asking what the government can do to stimulate the economy is mind-boggling.

That the Keynesian-inspired deficit spending binge did create jobs isn’t in question. The real question is whether it created any net jobs after all the negative effects of the spending and debt are taken into account. How many private-sector jobs were lost or not created in the first place because of the resources diverted to the government for its job creation? How many jobs are being lost or not created because of increased uncertainty in the business community over future tax increases and other detrimental government policies?

Don’t expect the disciples of interventionist government to attempt an answer to those questions any time soon. It has simply become gospel in some quarters that massive deficit spending is necessary to get the economy back on its feet.

The idea that government spending can “make up for” a slow-down in private economic activity has already been discredited by the historical record—including the Great Depression and Japan’s recent “lost decade.”

Our own history offers evidence that reducing the government’s footprint on the private sector is the better way to get the economy going.

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Thoughts on the ‘Minibus’ Spending Bill

The House is scheduled to vote this evening on a fiscal 2012 “minibus” packaging of three appropriations bills (Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science and Transportation-HUD) agreed to in conference on Monday. It includes a continuing resolution to keep the government funded through December 16th, thus avoiding a government “shutdown.” In sum, I think the bill is largely business…

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Coburn Report on Subsidies for Millionaires

Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) new report on the various federal subsidies being collected by millionaires deserves applause for not resorting to class warfare rhetoric in making the point that it’s silly for wealthy folks to receive taxpayer handouts: We should never demonize those who are successful. Nor should we pamper them with unnecessary welfare to create an…

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Obama Demonstrates Why ‘Government Efficiency’ Is a Joke

By the time I stopped working for Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), I had concluded that the pursuance of so-called “government efficiency” was largely a misguided waste of time for a politician who was interested in achieving smaller government. (I’ve been pleased to see my old boss spend more time trying to cut and eliminate programs since my…

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GOP Fingerprints on the ‘Christmas Tree Tax’

The Drudge Report’s headlining of a Heritage Foundation story titled “Obama Couldn’t Wait: His New Christmas Tree Tax” has created quite a stir. In fact, it is being reported that the administration is now going to delay its implementation due to the outcry. Conservatives and Republicans are particularly incensed. However, it appears that they might want to rethink their…

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Uh-Oh: Bipartisan Housing Commission Announced

The words “bipartisan” and “commission” usually send a chill down my spine. I felt such a chill when I learned that the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) had formed a Housing Commission to “address the long-term challenges facing a struggling housing sector.” My initial reaction was confirmed when I read that it would be chaired by former government officials and politicians of the establishment type:

  • Christopher “Kit” Bond – former U.S. senator (R-MO)
  • Henry Cisneros – Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary under President Bill Clinton
  • Mel Martinez – former U.S. senator (R-FL) and HUD secretary under President George W. Bush
  • George Mitchell – former Senate majority leader (D-ME) and BPC co-founder

The most disturbing name is Henry Cisneros. Policies implemented by Cisneros’s HUD helped lead to the housing bubble and bust (see this section on Cisneros from a Cato essay on HUD Scandals). What’s next, Dick Cheney on a hunting safety commission?

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‘Government Efficiency': Trying to Turn Cats into Dogs

I’ll have more to say later on Mitt Romney’s speech on federal spending, but his banal call for making government more “efficient” gave me an opportunity to share some good commentary on the subject. In a recent piece criticizing Indiana’s Republican-led state government for not doing “anything substantive to improve Indiana’s budgetary, fiscal or economic position,” Craig Ladwig, editor…

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GOP Hypocrisy on Energy Subsidies?

When the Solyndra scandal broke in September, I wrote that “Republicans should be careful when casting stones given their past and present support for energy subsidies.” The left has been ripping congressional Republicans for making political hay of the Solyndra affair after having lobbied the Department of Energy to bestow their constituents with similar taxpayer handouts.

ThinkProgress released a report that documents letters sent by 62 Republican members of Congress to Energy officials groveling for subsidies. Are these Republicans hypocrites? I’d say that it depends. I think the members who justified their request on the basis of “job creation” while criticizing the Obama administration for justifying its stimulus packages on the same grounds belong in the “yes” column. Also belonging in the “yes” column are those subsidy-seeking members who have chastised the administration for engaging in “crony capitalism” and “picking winners and losers.” On the other hand, I don’t think the sole act of criticizing the Solyndra deal while begging Energy for money necessarily makes one a hypocrite.

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Senate Spares Rural Development Subsidies

An amendment to a Senate appropriations bill introduced by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) that would have reduced funding for rural development subsidies at the Department of Agriculture by $1 billion was easily voted downtoday. Only 13 Republicans voted to cut the program. Thirty-two Republicans joined all Democrats in voting to spare it, including minority leader Mitch…

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