Federal debt and deficit

Can Federal Spending Be Cut?

Featured image Federal revenues are booming, yet deficits are rising again because spending is booming even more. President Trump, unhappy about growing deficits, says he will ask all cabinet officers to find five percent in spending cuts for next year. Sounds like a good proposal, but the linked USA Today story is devoted entirely to ridiculing it. You can’t cut federal spending, the reporters say: Congress spends money, not the president (true); »

Trump Fought the Swamp, and the Swamp Won [with comment by Paul]

Featured image If you are of a certain age, you may remember a song by the Bobby Fuller Four called “I Fought the Law.” It was not one of the top cultural milestones of the 1960s, but it was catchy. The refrain went, “I fought the law, and the law won.” That refrain has been going through my head, in a different form, ever since President Trump signed the omnibus spending bill »

You Can Vote For Conservatism, But You Can’t Get It

Featured image I first made that observation–you can vote for conservatism, but you can’t get it–quite a few years ago. Sadly, it remains true, as exemplified by the $1.3 trillion spending monstrosity that President Trump signed today. How bad is the bill? Rand Paul tweeted in real time as he read the bill–or as much of it as he could read through in the hours available. He produced a number of tweets, »

Trump should veto the omnibus, but not for the reasons he cites [UPDATE, he signed it]

Featured image After signaling to Congress that he supports the omnibus spending bill it was about to pass, President Trump is now threatening to veto the bill. He complains that it does nothing for the DACA population and virtually nothing to build his wall. In my view, these are not good reasons to veto the omnibus. Doing something for the DACA population should not be a priority, and certainly not to the »

Congress approves spending bill

Featured image This morning at around 5:30 a.m., the House approved a budget deal that will add hundreds of billions of dollars in federal spending, not just for the military but also for domestic programs. The vote was 240-186. The Senate had already passed the deal by a vote of 71-28 (John McCain did not vote). In both chambers, the dissenters were a mix of hard core leftists who objected to not »

Another problem with the spending deal

Featured image The editors of National Review point to a problem with the spending deal that I hadn’t considered: it may end the chance for a conservative legislative achievement in 2018. Here’s why: A two-year spending deal means Republicans probably won’t go to the trouble of passing a formal budget for 2019. That would mean no chance for a so-called reconciliation process that could allow them to enact meaningful legislation with only »

McConnell puts big government freight train back on track

Featured image Skepticism is always in order on the substance of any agreement between Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats, especially if the subject is spending. When it comes to the spending deal Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer reached, skepticism should probably give way to alarm. The deal raises spending caps on discretionary spending by nearly $300 billion over two years. According to Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, this means »

The “Government Shutdown” Fraud

Featured image The press is starting to beat the usual drums about the horror of a possible “government shutdown” Friday night if Congress can’t pass a budget or a stopgap spending bill. This does seems slightly unusual in that Republicans control both Congress and the executive branch, so what is there to fight about, unlike previous showdowns that pitted a Republican Congress against a Democratic president. I guess the Senate needs some »

Tax Cuts and Liberal Hysteria

Featured image Power Line is pleased to welcome Kurt Eichenwald to its readership, though should I be worried or pleased that our most mild of provocations indicates that he keeps a cardiologist fully and anxiously employed? All it took was a nod to this overwrought tweet to provoke a tantrum: One hardly expects an elite journalist to lose all perspective in the manner of a Hollywood star like Patton Oswalt, who offered »

The Case for Spending Caps

Featured image The Budget Control Act of 2011 resolved the purported “debt ceiling crisis” of that year, when it was widely (but falsely) alleged that the U.S. would go into default if the debt ceiling were not increased. Hardly anyone liked the sequestration that resulted from that budget compromise, but I did. It was the only effective check on federal spending in my lifetime. This video by the Center for Freedom and »

Fuse Lit on the Pension Time Bomb, and the Next Tax Revolt?

Featured image One thing conspicuously missing from both party conventions is any talk of government debt and deficits. Even Democrats usually acknowledge grudgingly that our deficits are a time bomb waiting to go off, though this is usually in service of their Great White Whale obsession, which is to raise taxes on Great White Males. So it is with considerable interest that I note the increasing visibility of the real-time collapse of »

Obama’s Lame Duck Budget

Featured image President Obama has unveiled his last budget proposal, which calls for $4.1 trillion in spending for FY 2017. In the final year of his presidency Obama is by definition a lame duck. With Republicans in control of Congress–even though it doesn’t always seem like it–he is the lamest possible duck. As always, Obama’s final budget purports to cover the next ten years. But since Obama will be gone in a »

The problem with Speaker Ryan in one headline

Featured image Yesterday’s Washington Post featured an article by Amber Phillips called (in the paper edition) “A dismal congressional session, but a flicker of hope.” According to Phillips, the “hope” lies in the “fresh face” of Speaker Paul Ryan and the bipartisanship he has already demonstrated. That the Washington Post sees hope in Ryan’s emergence tells conservatives everything they need to know about the new Speaker. Moreover, an article like Phillips’ is »

Hillary Clinton’s national debt evasion

Featured image At a political event in New Hampshire, someone asked Hillary Clinton to state with specificity what she would do as president to bring down the national debt. Instead of answering, Clinton offered a self-serving history lesson, praising her husband’s record (about which more below) and criticizing George W. Bush for starting two wars (both of which she voted for) without paying for them ( The Washington Post’s fact checker has »

GOP: Say No To Another Bad Spending Deal

Featured image There are so many things wrong with the spending deal that John Boehner announced last night. Let us itemize a few of them. First, the Left is openly crowing about the fact that the deal is a huge victory for their side. The New York Times headlines: “Obama Wins on Budget Deal as John Boehner Cleans Out the Barn.” How much more do you need to know? The sequester was »

On the Bright Side, We’ll Only be $20 Trillion In Debt

Featured image Americans everywhere are counting down to the end of the Obama presidency. The damage he has wreaked is beyond calculation. He has hobbled our economy, trashed the Constitution, eroded trust in government, politicized one federal agency after another, poisoned relations among the races, stifled opportunity for poorer Americans, weakened our armed forces, conducted a perverse foreign policy, made the U.S. a laughingstock abroad…the list goes on and on. And we »

Per Capita Federal Spending Shows 40-Year Trends

Featured image Veronique de Rugy has performed a real service by compiling the data shown in the chart below, in a manner that I haven’t seen it before. The chart depicts per capita federal spending from 1962 to the present, broken down into three categories: discretionary, mandatory and net interest, and stated in constant 2014 dollars. First the chart, then some comments about it. Click to enlarge: Shown on a per capita »