Friday, July 22, 2011

Why I don't Understand the Current Debt Ceiling/Budget Debate

As I'm sure you all know, my political instincts align with the Republicans on this issue - higher taxes and bigger government are things to be avoided, not encouraged. But the thing that puzzles me is why the Democrats are so intransigent on the subject of a cuts-only solution. (I know, this already sounds like some sort of partisan hit-piece, so please just read the rest; I honestly want to understand their position.)

Allow me to lay out the reasons for my confusion. The US Federal expenditures for 2007 were a total of $2.8 trillion. The US Federal expenditures for 2010 were $3.55 trillion. This is a more than 25% increase. Where has all of this increased spending gone, and why are the programs it went to fund so critical that cutting them is not a serious option? It's not like 2007 was the dark day of anarchy, lawlessness, and starving seniors. Originally the increase was "stimulus spending" of various kinds, but it seems to have morphed from "temporary increase" into "permanent budget baseline," and any talk of serious cutting is treated as beyond the pale by the media and the Democrats alike.

I'm of the opinion that going back to the 2007 budget (adjusted to account for population growth) should be a viable option, and would save something like $5-6 trillion over 10 years. It sounds (to me) both simple and feasible. What am I missing?

(No, telling me that the "Liberals are evil and want to destroy America" is not a valid answer to my questions. Political opponents may be wrong, biased, and ignorant on occasion, but they will almost never be evil. Their intentions are as good as mine - I'm just looking for more info on the source of our disagreement on methods here.)

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