CG&G alum Bruce Bartlett has an important column about federal spending in The Fiscal Times that does what Bruce does best: Say it straight with no BS.
What Bruce shows -- convincingly -- is that, contrary to those that say federal "spending" is the long-term problem, the real problem is spending in just one area -- interest payments on the national debt. Spending on virtually every other area of the budget is flat over the long term while interest starts to rise precipitously in 2020 and keeps rising over the next 60 years.
This isn't to say that interest payments on the national debt don't constitute federal spending because that obviously isn't true. But, as Bruce points out, the deficit for the non-interest part of the budget -- the "primary deficit" -- is only 1.7 percent of GDP over the long run and that makes it far less scary than the deficit scolds want us to believe.
Another CG&G alum, the ever-alert and budget-aware Bruce Bartlett, last week sent me yet another poll showing how popular federal spending has become.
Take a look at question 15 of the poll from The Economist and YouGov, which was completed just a week or so ago. It shows that only 19 percent of respondents support reductions in Social Security and only 21 percent support them in Medicare. Medicaid reductions are supported by more -- 31 percent -- but definitely not anything close to a majority.
Military spending reductions are supported by a majority -- 51 percent -- but that's obviously just in general terms. My guess is that specific Pentagon programs would not be embraced by anything close to that number.
CG&G alum Bruce Bartlett emailed me to say that, rather than cancel the sequester as I recommended in a post yesterday, we should get the band back together and reconstitute the anything-but-super committee to give it another chance to come up with a deficit reduction plan.
Sorry, Bruce...But I just don't see the need to go there yet again.
How many federal budget commissions, special committees, advisory groups, and private negotiations do we need to fail before we admit they don't work? Think about just the past few years: The Biden-Cantor negotiations, the Obama-Boehner summit negotiations, the B-S (that is, Simpson-Bowles) commission, the anything-but-super committee, the gang of six -- fail, fail, fail, fail, fail.
CG&G alum Bruce Bartlett had a great interview on CNBC yesterday about federal budget politics that is definitely worth a few minutes of your time. As usual, Bruce is candid, frank and a bi-partisan criticizer. Take a look below.
CG&G alum Bruce Bartlett, whose new book on tax reform -- The Benefit and The Burden -- debuted on the New York Times best seller list last week, forwarded this latest Harris Interactive poll about the budget to me over the weekend.
The money quote tells the same story as virtually every other poll on the budget: cutting "federal spending" is popular until you get to the specific programs. Then, with only a few very small exceptions, it becomes impossible.