Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Even a broken clock...

...is right twice a day:

Ever since Ronald Reagan, the GOP has been run by people who want a much smaller government. In the famous words of activist Grover Norquist, conservatives want to get the government “down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”
But there has always been a political problem with this agenda. Voters may say they oppose big government, but the programs that dominate federal spending — Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security — are very popular. So how can the public be persuaded to accept large spending cuts?

I don't agree with Paul Krugman often, but he actually makes a good point here. If we're ever going to get a handle on our government's spending, we're eventually going to have to confront the fact that a big chunk of it consists of programs for which cutting spending is seen as a third rail of sorts. However, what Krugman doesn't tell you here is that the Democrats have a history of taking advantage of the Republicans' efforts to do that sort of thing. Does anyone remember back in the mid'-90s when the Republicans in Congress wanted to cut projected increases in Medicare spending? The spending was still going to be increased, just not as much as it originally was. The Democrats and the media (redundant, I know) went all out to portray this as an outright cut in spending, and the Republicans took a pretty big beating in the opinion polls from what I remember. If memory serves me right, the Democrats' cynical spin of this was to an extent responsible for Bill Clinton's re-election the next year. So yeah, that's why the Republicans aren't saying about what programs need to be cut, because they know the Democrats will spin it as Republicans wanting to starve babies and the elderly. The Democrats know damn well what programs whose spending we're going to have to cut too. But you know they won't do it. They'll just resort to the old mantra of "tax the rich," as they're wont to do, and nothing is going to change.