Budget Cuts and Bribery

…or budget cuts and coercion, depending on your perspective.

The president’s budget, due for release Tuesday, will spare the two largest drivers of future spending—Medicare and Social Security—leaving trillions in cuts from other programs. That includes discretionary spending cuts to education, housing, environment programs, and foreign aid already laid out by the administration, in addition to new proposed reductions to nondiscretionary spending like food stamps, Medicaid, and federal employee-benefit programs.

What’s going to be ignored in the inevitable hoo-raw over these allegedly terrible cuts to various aspects of our nation’s “safety” net is the truly terrible downside of those aspects.

Is Satire

…a proper style for what’s claimed to be a serious, scholarly journal?  Here, via The Wall Street Journal, is the abstract of Teresa Lloro-Bidart’s When ‘Angelino’ squirrels don’t eat nuts: a feminist posthumanist politics of consumption across southern California [sic] in the journal Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography [also sic]:

It’s a Start

The Secretary of State wants to cut 2,300 jobs at State.  That might seem like a lot, until you recall that State has 13,000 Foreign Service employees, 11,000 Civil Service employees, and 45,000 Foreign Service local employees.  That’s 69,000 folks on the payroll (some estimates put the number higher, to 75,000); Tillerson wants to cut all of 3% of the employees.

Contra The Wall Street Journal‘s subheadline (The plan underscores the Trump administration’s preference for military spending over diplomacy), this is a good start on the true priority—downsizing the Federal government physically as well as fiscally.  Here’s hoping Secretary of State Rex Tillerson can follow through, and Congress and the other Cabinets and Agencies join the party.

Another Reason

…to stop sending Federal funds to any institution in the California University system.

The University of California hid a stash of $175 million in secret funds while its leaders requested more money from the state, an audit released on Tuesday said.

The University of California system is run by Janet Napolitano, the former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.  And the same Napolitano who decided returning American veterans could be terrorist material: her history of dishonesty is a long one.

Budget Cuts

Because it isn’t possible to get the same bang for fewer bucks by using the smaller amount more efficiently.  No, just keep throwing money at the thing; if a single dollar sticks, it’s sufficient.

That’s the apparent position of folks on the left like Bill Nye, the guy with a Master’s degree in Engineering who represents himself as “The Science Guy.”

Nye, who served as an honorary co-chair for the March for Science, chided lawmakers who ignore scientific research in areas like climate change and railed against the Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts.

Refusal

Then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D, NV) said he would never work with a President Mitt Romney.

Mitt Romney’s fantasy that Senate Democrats will work with him to pass his “severely conservative” agenda is laughable[.]

Then Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D, NY) stated his refusal to work with President Donald Trump:

He moved so far over to the right that it’s virtually impossible to work with him[.]

If that wasn’t clear, the Progressive-Democrats have made it so:

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D, NY) said congressional leaders can reach an agreement on spending, but only if the White House stays out of negotiations.

Spending Our Tax Dollars

The table below is constructed from the table and data provided by Laura Saunders in her piece in Friday’s Wall Street Journal.  It shows how $100 in our tax monies paid to the Federal government were spent on a range of government purposes.

Item 2016
Social Security $23.61
Medicare $15.26
National defense $15.24
Medicaid $9.55
Interest $6.25
Other spending $4.94
Veterans $4.58
Civilian federal retirement $2.57
Transportation $2.39
Refundable credits* $2.21
Education $2.08
Food stamps $1.89

Shrinking the Federal Government

…is more than just reducing spending; although that’s a major component of the necessary shrinkage.  Shrinking also must include reducing the physical size of the government, reducing its payroll.  To that end, the moves by President Donald Trump and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney will prove valuable if Congress will cooperate.

Social Security Trust Fund Investing in the Stock Market

The Wall Street Journal held one of its aperiodic debates last Sunday, this time on whether the Social Security Trust Fund should be allowed to invest in stocks.  One debater argued that such investing would reduce the need for dependence on benefit cuts or tax increases; the other claimed that government should stay out of the market.

It’s certainly true that investing in the stock market could produce better returns than the Trust Fund’s current requirement to invest wholly in (unmarketable) Federal debt instruments.

NATO and Mutual Defense Alliances

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was in Europe at the end of the week, and among other things, he pushed for NATO member states to honor their decades-old commitment to spend 2% of their GDP on defense.

Germany, among other members, insisted that honoring their commitment was “unrealistic.”

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said demands for 2% of GDP spending were “totally unrealistic.” He said that to meet the US target, Germany would have to increase spending by some €35 billion ($37 billion).

After all, Gabriel has argued,

…a strong defense isn’t enough to ensure security.