Thursday, July 08, 2004

Who will control spending?

Fiscal discipline is dormant. It will wake up in 2006 at the earliest. Everyone has long since given up hope with Bush, and those who hope in Kerry are fools:
An omnibus health insurance bill would be the first legislation sent to Congress in a Kerry presidency, he says. But while the centrist Kerry still advocates shrinking the budget deficit, a bolder Kerry, less noticeable so far in the campaign rhetoric, adds that if the deficit threatens to rise rather than fall, well, so be it - he'll go ahead with his health plan anyway.

"Health care is sacrosanct," Mr. Kerry said in a telephone interview, offering the most explicit commitment to date to a program that he estimates would cost $650 billion. That is an amount greater than the cost of all his other economic proposals combined.

"Listen," he said, "if worse comes to worst, you make adjustments accordingly in other priorities."

And not in health care? Mr. Kerry says that he will not have to face that choice, and that in his overall economic plan there is leeway for deficit reduction and expanded, subsidized health insurance. But if a choice has to be made, deficit reduction will have less priority. "Health care is too important," he said.
That leaves Congress. I won't waste words considering the Democrats. As for the Republicans, I expect there will a backlash against their love for big-government, but I doubt that it will be big enough to tip the balance.

I think the virtue to be called upon now is perseverance. After all, Milton Friedman had to wait until he was an old man to see any significant vindication of his ideas. As for pragmatic concerns like "what should we do in the meantime?": I believe the most likely path to success is through the Republican primaries. There are still a lot of Republican representatives and senators that believe in smaller government (at least 88 in the House), and it wasn't so long ago that they controlled Congress and were fighting tooth and nail against Clinton for spending cuts. The Club For Growth has pushed it weight around in congressional primaries (as well as general elections) already, and they are bragging that "Contrary to the RINOs, ALL of the legislators who were elected with the Club's support voted YES [for the Spending Control Act on June 25th]." I think they've got the right idea, and I'm putting my money where my mouth is: I've just become a member and donated.

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