Republicans and Democrats alike have been talking a lot about spending cuts these days. Every new proposal to cut spending is proposed with lavish fanfare and proclamations of fiscal responsibility. They shouldn't be. Take earmarks, for example. Obama and GoP leadership proudly announced the end of earmarks, yet earmarks hardly even constitute a drop in the ocean that is our deficit. Why the announcement? It sates the bloodthirsty American public, which is crying out for cuts above all else. So, what's a smart way to cut?
The Republican proposal is all about fluff. They plan to restore discretionary spending to 2008 levels, which doesn't do anything meaningful for the budget deficit in the long run and axes good and bad programs alike. If they really are serious about cutting government, they'd attack entitlement spending. Currently, spending on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and interest on the debt accounts for a whopping 47% of the budget. By 2020, that number is projected to rise to 64%. Military spending constitutes another big chunk of the budget. How can our government be serious about spending cuts while pretending that they can ignore programs that constitute the majority of our spending?
Our leaders have a real chance to take the worries of the American public and put them to good use. The War in Afghanistan is going nowhere and sucking down tax dollars faster than ever before; phase out our involvement. We don't even have to cut Medicare or Medicaid spending, merely fixing the gross inefficiencies of the health care system (which Obamacare fails to do) would go a long way. Capping or slowing their entitlement growth would save our country hundreds of billions.
Our politicians are talking the talk. Will they step up and walk the walk?