Mailbag – Smoke and Mirrors Edition
Gormogon Operative BG writes in on a stack of $2 bills regarding the Debt Ceiling:
Illustrious Gormogons –
There’s something I don’t understand about this “one dollar of spending reductions for one dollar of debt ceiling hike” business. I could ask my congressman, but he’s an imbecile who doesn’t know anything, or our president, who only pretends to know everything. Or I could ask The Gormogons, who I find know more than I do about almost everything.
I don’t know how the final numbers will shake out, but as of right now, the competing House and Senate versions both claim they’ll increase the debt ceiling by $2 trillion or so, in exchange for $2 trillion or so in spending cuts over the next ten years. The biggest sticking point seems to be whether it will be a short-term increase (six months or so) or long-term (just past the next election).
Either way, we’re going to be facing another debt ceiling debate by December next year. So the ceiling increase is good for only about 18 months, tops.
But the proposed spending cuts are spread out over ten years. Presumably, we’ll be having this same argument next year or early 2013.
1) What spending do they think they’re going to cut in 2013 in exchange for the 2013 debt ceiling increase?
2) Why do they think that spending can’t be cut today, but they’ll be able to cut it in 2013?
3) The proposed cuts that are being spread out over the next ten years – will they be cuts compared to what was spent this year? Or will the cuts that they’re looking to schedule in, say 2018, be cuts compared to whatever ridiculous amount was spent in 2017? In other words, if, say, the EPA’s budget this year is $40 billion, and it’s scheduled to get cut $10 billion in 2018, will its budget be reduced to $30 billion in 2018? Or will it be reduced $10 billion from the $65 billion it had meanwhile increased over the previous five years? I guess what I’m asking is, what is the baseline?
4) And aren’t all these proposals for cuts ten years from now a pointless, phony exercise, since nothing that Congress does today is binding on any future Congress?
Frankly, I’m thinking more and more that the debt ceiling shouldn’t be raised at all, and the government be forced to figure out how to scrape by on $200 billion a month. Let President Obama order all department and agency heads to figure out where they can save 5% of this year’s budget, and let each agency head tell every executive and manager, all the way down to the section chiefs who manage fifteen employees, that they now have five percent less money than they thought they had, and as good managers, they have to figure out where to save that money or get fired.
And don’t tell me there’s a single office anywhere in the U.S. government that can’t trim its sails by five percent.
BTW, with regard to your question today, “Has the government ever provided a product or service that you wanted more than an Apple product?”
Yes, it has. Aircraft carriers. If you told me to choose which institution, the U.S. Department of Defense or Apple Computerwould have to vanish tomorrow, I’d say “bye-bye, Apple.” Because if our military were to vanish, Apple, and a lot of other things I like, would soon follow.