Michael Tanner

SNAP Theatrics Fall Flat

It has become a set piece of political theater for liberal Democrats, carried out in recent weeks by everyone from New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner to Connecticut senator Chris Murphy and a bevy of congressmen: attempting to eat on the $4.50-per-day food budget supposedly provided by the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the program formerly known as “food stamps.” While always good for a headline, and generally accompanied by amusing photographs of the bizarre meals the politicians cobble together on their meager budget, the so-called SNAP challenge is also arrant nonsense.

The Deficit is Still Bad News

To listen to much of the mainstream media recently, one would assume that the battle against the national debt has been won.

Krugman's Still Wrong

Paul Krugman has never been shy about proclaiming that he is right and everyone else is wrong — and not just wrong, but “knaves and fools.” Lately, however, one begins to worry that he might actually hurt himself, so vigorously has he been patting himself on the back for his opposition to “austerity” (defined as any cut in government spending, anytime, anywhere).

How Serious Are Republicans?

Shortly after President Obama finally released his proposed budget a couple weeks ago, Representative Greg Walden of Oregon, the chairman of the National Republican Campaign Committee, launched a stinging attack on the president not over the president’s call for more taxes and spending or because the president’s budget never balances and adds trillions to the national debt, but because the president actually proposed modestly slower growth in Social Security benefits. A “shocking attack on seniors,” Representative Walden called it, accusing the president of “trying to balance this budget on the backs of seniors.”

I Survived Sequestration

This week marks the one-month anniversary of one of the most terrifying events in American history: the sequester. So, with great trepidation, I have climbed out of my bunker to survey the devastation and send off this column.

Treating the Symptoms

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 Fairy Tale on Spending Cuts

“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.

The President's Miracle-Gro Government

Of course he believes that we have a spending problem, President Obama assured us, immediately before a State of the Union address in which he called for — you guessed it — more spending. Like Saint Augustine praying “Lord grant me chastity and continence … but not yet,” President Obama paid lip service to the idea of debt reduction but ruled out any real effort to reduce it.

The Debt Deniers' Fantasy

It’s not quite on a par with 9/11 truthers or Obama birthers, but recently a number of liberal commentators have descended into the fever swamps of denialism by rejecting the most basic facts about our debt and deficit. Mind you, they are not arguing about the best policies to reduce the debt — taxe hikes vs. spending cuts — but actually denying that the problem exists at all.

The Spending Cliff

Twenty-three point nine trillion dollars. That will be our national debt in 2022 under the fiscal-cliff bill that just passed Congress. That’s nearly $4 trillion more than the current-law baseline, and while most of that comes from making the Bush tax cuts permanent for most Americans without offsetting the loss of revenue through spending cuts, at least $330 billion of the new debt results from the increased spending that was part of the deal. Our government debt will amount to more than 118 percent of GDP.


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