For supporters of limited government, there is some good news coming from Washington. On entitlement spending, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s new spending plan would reform Medicare and Medicaid, repeal Obamacare, and balance the budget over 10 years.
I wrote about the Ryan budget two days ago, praising it for complying with Mitchell’s Golden Rule and reforming Medicare and Medicaid. But I believe in being honest and nonpartisan, so I also groused that it wasn’t as good as the 2011 and 2012 versions. Now it’s time to give the same neutral and dispassionate treatment to the budget proposed by Patty Murray, the Washington Democrat who chairs the Senate Budget Committee.
The now annual release of House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget proposal has replaced the release of the president’s budget proposal as my least favorite policy event of the year. The president promises big government and Ryan promises smaller big government. What makes the Ryan proposal more aggravating is that it’s hardly a vision of limited government, but the left (and many on the right) treats it like it is.
Sigh. Even when they’re sort of doing the right thing, Republicans are incapable of using the right argument.
As the sequester took effect last Friday (and the world as we know it began to end), President Obama and his spokesmen took to the airwaves to insist that they had a fairer and more balanced alternative.
“The budget hawks have defeated the defense hawks.” So read one analyst’s verdict last Friday on the news that, despite months of dire warnings from the Obama administration and the Pentagon’s allies on Capitol Hill, automatic budget cuts to the U.S. Defense Department would go into effect after all. Bill Kristol, the influential editor of the Weekly Standard, was despondent, writing, “the Republican party has, at first reluctantly, then enthusiastically, joined the president on the road to irresponsibility.” But have fiscal scolds really vanquished their neoconservative rivals within the GOP?
That’s the title of a quarter-page advertisement in the Washington Post on Wednesday.
Sheldon Richman and I spent a lot of time last week running through numbers from theCongressional Budget Office in order to gauge sequestration’s effect on federal spending. In the resulting column, Richman lays out the numbers and asks a pertinent question: How the $#!?% is the average voter supposed to have a clue about this stuff?
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.