Cheer, Don’t Sneer at The Spending Cut Deal

There has been lot of bitter disappointment from conservative and libertarian commentators since President Obama and Speaker Boehner announced “The Deal” last Friday night that will cut some $38 billion from 2011 spending.  Here are a couple of examples: my good friend over at The-Classic-Liberal and a commentator at RedState.

The critics are right that $38 billion in cuts is only about a third of what Republican candidates promised before the election and a tiny, almost insignificant fraction of this year’s projected deficit of $1.65 Trillion.  And, we have a right to be disappointed after Speaker Boehner slapped some audacious demands on the table – including the outright repeal of ObamaCare – only to negotiate them away.

But, at Liberty Works we find reason to be cautiously optimistic.  On the positive side:

  • These are real cuts.  There are scores of specific budget line items where 2011 spending will be less than 2010.  These are not the typical, illusory “deficit reduction” achieved only on paper by entering smaller numbers into the spreadsheet columns for future years, numbers that a future Congress would increase with a single sentence buried in a thousand page appropriations bill.
  • Usually when “cuts” are reported the numbers are the sum of “projected” cuts over ten years.  this time the cuts are real because they all come from 2011 spending.

America is at the very beginning of a long debate over the proper size and functions of government.  If The People continue to support Senators and Congressmen who are determined to reduce and restrict the size, cost, and power of the federal government The Deal will turn out in hindsight to have been the first small step toward that end.

On Sunday Obama’s spokesman David Plouffe telegraphed the Administration’s belief that it is losing public support and momentum when he announced the President’s intention to unveil a “plan” of his own to reduce the catastrophic deficit.  This comes only eight weeks after the White House delivered it’s 2012 budget, an exhaustively detailed document of over a thousand pages with virtually no spending cuts, projecting trillion dollar annual deficits forever!

Apparently Obama’s “plan” will include raising the top two tax brackets to the pre-Bush rates, which would be yet another reversal of his previous position, that he and the Congress did a great thing when they “came together for the American people” last December and agreed to extend those Bush tax rates for two more years.  As we reported here, the pre-Bush tax rates would further curtail economic growth and job creation while reducing the deficit by less than 5%.

For decades The Left relentlessly expanded government by proposing initiative after initiative to regulate, to subsidize, to control state and local governments and to muster a mind numbing constellation of social welfare programs.  Republican opposition, always pushing against the momentum, was largely ineffective, at best a mild restraint.

The Deal confirms that momentum has turned against government expansion and the roles of Left and Right have switched.  The evidence is the spectacle of Obama and Reid boasting of “historic” budget cuts.  Democrats are no longer able to initiate more expansions of government and are now reduced to attempting to negotiate smaller spending cuts and smaller reductions in government power than demanded by conservatives.

Is victory in sight?  Can we see a balanced budget in the near future?  Of course not.  Not yet, anyway.  But it’s way too soon to be cynically defeatist.

It took most of a century to get here.  We won’t dismantle the most mammoth, most complex, most entrenched bureaucratic superstructure in human history with one, high stakes, Friday night budget battle, or one legislative session or even one eight year Presidency.

If the Republicans manage to maintain their newly formed spines and the rest of us continue to support them through a long, tough battle with tactical wins and a few tactical losses, we can make progress every year and eventually reach the vision of a Constitutionally limited government that spends no more than it collects in low, less burdensome taxes.

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