March 15, 2004

Enough Talking about Fiscal Responsibility -- Let's Cut Spending

Article by Veronique de Rugy, fiscal policy analyst at the Cato Institute:

End corporate welfare. As former Budget Director Mitch Daniels noted: "It was not the federal government's role to subsidize, sometime deeply subsidize, private interests." He's right. Unfortunately, there is at least $90 billion of corporate welfare in this year's budget. Farmers get a large share of subsidies, with over $30 billion in 2004 in the form of crop subsidies and loans. With the federal government in deficit, corporate welfare is the perfect place to curtail spending.

All levels of government contain pork. According to Citizens Against Government Waste, in FY 2003, the GOP-controlled Congress porked-out a record $22.5 billion. Two examples: $100,000 renovation of the historic Coca-Cola building in Macon, Georgia, and $350,000 for construction of a folk cultural center in Pinellas County in Florida.

Finally, the feds should privatize businesses such as NASA, air traffic controllers, the U.S. Postal Service, Amtrak and other agencies. These operations should not be publicly run, especially given their poor performances. Even welfare states in Europe have learned this lesson. For instance, Germany's postal service is private. Canada's private air traffic control operates well. And private space exploration is on its way in Russia. Those industries ought to be private in America too.

Government is too big and it spends too much. Equally important, it spends money foolishly. It subsidizes the wrong things and penalizes the right things. Politicians create programs to solve problems, which invariably make things worse and lead to more spending. America need not creep into stagnant, bureaucratic wasteland. Yet we will become like France if Congress continues to spend like French politicians.