In a story regarding federal budget cuts, the Washington Post reports:
‘One of the last presidents to balance the budget was Herbert Hoover,’ [Rep. Peter] King added darkly, referring to the penny-pinching Republican blamed for deepening the Great Depression.
What a loaded and inaccurate statement!
Intercity passenger trains are experiencing a “renaissance” with Amtrak ridership growing “faster than other major travel modes,” says a new report from the Brookings Institution. Indeed, the report continues, Amtrak’s short-distance trains (generally, routes of around 200 to 600 miles) have, on average, a “positive operating balance,” so more such short-distance routes should be added.
When I first read this story in the Washington Post about supposedly under-appreciated federal bureaucrats, I was tempted to focus on the sentence referring to “the sledgehammer of budget cuts scheduled to hit today.” Below is the Congressional Budget Office’s depiction of this “sledgehammer.” Does the Washington Post really think that a 1.2 percent reduction in overall spending for the current fiscal year (which means the federal budget would still be larger than it was last year) represents a “sledgehammer of budget cuts”?
This Cato video takes on the apocalyptic hype surrounding sequestration:
The president made an appearance at the National Governors Association’s winter meeting to drum up support for his position that the sequestration spending cuts should be mitigated with tax hikes. The president understands that state politicians are dependent on federal handouts (see chart below), which makes them ideal candidates to help him convince the citizenry that spending cuts would usher in the apocalypse.
Military spending will remain at roughly 2006 levels—$603 billion, higher than peak U.S. spending during the Cold War. Meanwhile, we live in a safer world. The Soviet Union has been dead for more than two decades; no other nation, or combination of nations, has emerged since that can pose a comparable threat. We should have a defense budget that reflects this reality.
The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold has identified another budget zombie. This time it’s an obscure grant program administered by the Federal Aviation Administration that dumps money on tiny airports with scant activity.
“The sequester is coming, the sequester is coming,” cries Chicken Little, speaking of the across-the-board spending reductions set to kick in next Friday. As a result, much of the Washington establishment, politicians of both parties, and the media are bracing for the apocalypse.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the $85 billion in sequestration spending cuts translates into $44 billion reduction in actual federal outlays for 2013. The following chart puts that figure in perspective.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) has decided to throw his support behind, or at least drop his opposition to, ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion. His formal announcement is receiving much attention. Scott was an early opponent of ObamaCare. He parlayed that opposition into a bid for governor in 2010, and rode the anti-ObamaCare wave into office. Shortly after becoming governor, he announced he would not lift a finger to help the federal government implement the law. I followed all this pretty closely. I served on Scott’s gubernatorial transition team, at his invitation.