Monday’s Wall Street Journal has an Op Ed column by Stephen Moore, “The Budget Sequester Is a Success”, which points out that federal spending has actually shrunk from a high of $3.598 trillion in 2011 to $3.537 trillion in 2012 to a projected $3.45 trillion for 2013. These spending declines are due to the Budget Control Act of 2011 which accompanied the 2011 increase in the debt limit. The $100 billion per year budget sequester is a part of that agreement. The current budget standoff between the Senate and the House is simply an attempt by the Democratic majority in the Senate to renegotiate the spending limits agreed to in 2011.
The sequester will continue to constrain discretionary spending but the two thirds of the federal budget devoted to entitlements is growing at a much faster rate than the overall growth of the economy. The way out of this dilemma should be obvious to any rational, impartial observer. We need to slow down the growth of entitlements and speed up the growth of the economy. But this is much easier said than done!
Democrats will apparently not agree to do either of these two things. Reining in entitlements takes political courage and the Democrats would rather be able to accuse Republicans of cruelty to the poor and the elderly than to actually address this problem in a serious manner. Growing the economy faster will require appealing to investors and risk takers, with lower tax rates, for example, as well as loosening anti-business regulations. Measures like these go against liberal ideology.
While we’re waiting for common sense to prevail in Washington, what more can be done to shrink still very large deficit spending? There are all sorts of wasteful, duplicative and ineffective federal programs out there. Fiscal conservatives should just keep going after them, one-by-one, and whittling them down. Millions of voters and taxpayers will be thankful for this.