Megan McArdle, a pretty decent libertarian business writer for The Atlantic, has something to say about the current debt limit farce. I pretty much disagree with her on this specific point she brings up.
One of the areas where the hard-liners and I depart is that they do not consider cuts from the future baseline to be “real” spending cuts; they want absolute cuts, or at the very least, per-capita cuts. I do not think that this is realistic–and not because I think that it would be somehow impossible to have a smaller government. We could certainly do less, and I agree that we should. But we cannot do it instantly. It is not politically possible, and it is not even fiscally possible. It would, for example, be eminently possible to have a private air-traffic control system. But we cannot privatize the system by August 3rd.
Honestly, is anyone really saying to have full privatization the next day? Ok, I’ll grant you that there’s probably some folks out there who actually want that. They are, of course, deluded and not dealing in the real world. But is it really too much to ask for a, oh I don’t know, 3% cut in the budget?
What is wrong with saying cabinet X’s budget this year is 100 billion, next year it will be 3% less?
Since the 50 states are unable to print their own fiat money, unlike the feds, they’ve done just that. No one has said, yeah, let’s shutter the entire Mass Dept of Education. Or let’s shut down the NH DOT. No, what happened is, they got a budget that was smaller next year. The depts then figured out what they had to do to deal with the new realities of a smaller budget.
Is that really and truly too much to ask of the federal government? Because if it is, then really, we’re never going to resolve this and we are most assuredly on our way to becoming a Banana Republic.