Spending cuts are easy in the abstract

We’ve been hearing a lot about cuts to “domestic discretionary spending,” but what, exactly?  These cuts are really easy in the abstract, but as Chait points out, specifics are hard:

The larger question here is, what level of domestic discretionary spending do Republicans find appropriate? I’m familiar with the party’s thinking on defense spending (more!), Social Security and Medicare (privatize and cut!), as well as taxes and regulation. But, despite following conservative thought quite closely, I’m fairly unclear as to whether the party thinks we’re spending way too much on non-entitlement programs — whether there’s any defined endpoint, or simply a goal of cutting as much as politically feasible forever.   [emphasis mine]  The actual impact of Republican budgets here is things like slashing funding on transportation infrastructure or food inspectors.  Yet you almost never see conservative argue for slashing those programs.

I’m surprised that Chait is unclear– I’m not.  The answer is “a goal of cutting as much as politically feasible forever.”  To actually have a position on what should be cut– other than the classic “waste, fraud, and abuse,” you’d have to think seriously about policy.  I’ve not seen one iota of evidence that the modern Republican party, at least those in Congress, pretty much ever thinks seriously and honestly about policy.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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