Switzerland’s “Debt Brake” Is a Role Model for Spending Control and Fiscal Restraint

April 27, 2014

I think Mitchell has the right of it: the root of the problem is government spending growing too fast, not deficit spending or even debt, per se. Maybe the Swiss solution is something we should look at. (Yep. The original article is about two years old. I ran across while cruising the Internet and thought it worth sharing, even at its “advanced age.”)

International Liberty

I’ve argued, ad nauseam, that the single most important goal of fiscal policy is (or should be) to make sure the private sector grows faster than the government. This “golden rule” is the best way of enabling growth and avoiding fiscal crises, and I’ve cited nations that have made progress by restraining government spending.

But what’s the best way of actually imposing such a rule, particularly since politicians like using taxpayer money as a slush fund?

Well, the Swiss voters took matters into their own hands, as I describe in today’s Wall Street Journal.

Americans looking for a way to tame government profligacy should look to Switzerland. In 2001, 85% of its voters approved an initiative that effectively requires its central government spending to grow no faster than trendline revenue. The reform, called a “debt brake” in Switzerland, has been very successful. Before the law went into…

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Entitlement spending as vote-buying heroin

January 27, 2012

Liberals decry all the corporate money in politics, while conservatives worry that President Obama plans to spend a billion dollars to fund his reelection campaign.

Bill Whittle calls that “chump change.”

In another of his Firewall videos, Bill examines what he calls “The Vote Pump:” the money the federal government can use to make sure you vote the way the statists want. It’s eye-opening, to say the least.

Interesting, isn’t it? We currently take in more than enough revenue to fund the actual government (setting aside for the moment how many of those are legitimate functions), but what’s killing us is the nearly 60% of all federal spending that goes toward entitlements.

And it’s a percentage that, under current conditions, is only going to go up as the population ages.

Bill calls this a vote pump — money in, votes out. I think of it more as a form of economic heroin: give people “free money” and make them dependent, afraid to give it up. And, no matter how much they realize intellectually that the system is unsustainable and bad for the nation, that fear will lead most to vote to keep in power those who promise to keep the smack coming — the statists, whether Democrat or Republican.

It’s as de Tocqueville once wrote:

The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money. (1)

So when conservatives mock Gingrich for proposing a lunar base (“Too expensive!!”) or lefties decry all the money for the military (“Think of the children!!”), just take another look at Whittle’s chart and remind yourself of what the real problem is.

And then look at Greece to see where it will lead.

Footnote:
(1) Arguably misattributed.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Well, he does like to be compared to FDR…

August 6, 2011

In light of last night’s wholly predictable and wholly unavoidable(1) downgrade of the nation’s debt rating, I think you’ll get a chuckle(2) from this political cartoon from 1934(!) , via Roger Kimball:

Obama really is in that grand Democratic tradition, no?

Meanwhile, if there’s any silver lining to this, it’s that that pressure on the Democrats and Obama to cut spending and reform entitlements to cut spending will increase to “agony” levels. Not that I expect them to cave in — nope. We’ll see calls for “more revenue” (higher taxes) and more class warfare, more blaming of Republicans and the Tea Party for demanding radical, extremist measures like —gasp!— fiscal responsibility, and more refusal by the Democrats(3) do to anything meaningful, because to do that would be to admit the intellectual bankruptcy and fraud of 80 years of Party orthodoxy.

And that would be a bit hard for anyone to do, let alone rigid, committed Leftist ideologues such as Obama and Pelosi. (I’m not including Reid, just because he’s simply an unintelligent tool who does what he’s told.)

No, real reform and the repairing of our finances has to wait for January, 2013, to begin, which means we all have to work as we never have before to make sure the right (as in “Right”) candidates win in 2012.

The S&P downgrade was the alarm saying the wheels are coming off that cart; it’s up to us to bring it to a halt before they do.

LINKS: Two thoughtful pieces from Ed Morrissey. First, on the possible effects of a national credit downgrade: Life After D-Day. The other is about how we best get out of this mess: Can We Grow Our Way Out?

Footnotes:
(1)  While I sympathize with my friends on the hard Right (or, as I call that faction, the “Stalwarts”), saying that the downgrade could have been avoided if only we had passed “Cut, Cap, & Balance” (and thus blaming Boehner, too) is to engage in fantasy. In my opinion, it would never have gotten past the Senate and the Oval Office — the latter being held by a rigid, in his heart of hearts Socialist, ideologue. But, even if it could have been forced through, the Herculean effort needed would have taken so long that we’d have been downgraded by now, anyway. The damage done by the progressive sending binge has been that bad.

(2) Albeit a grim, resentful one. But a chuckle, nonetheless.

(3) I’m harping on the Democrats because, while I agree with my “Big L” libertarian friends that the Republicans bear their share of the blame for the debt/entitlement/spending fiasco, the lion’s share belongs to the Jackass Party. Just look at these charts on the deficit and the debt.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


(Video) Two more good ones from the Power Line contest

August 5, 2011

The contest may be over, but here are two more worthy entries in Power Line’s contest for the best entry that uses pop culture in any format to convey the seriousness of our national debt problem.

The first is a hip-hop video featuring babies with a message for the “adults” who run the country. I’m not a big fan of rap or hip-hop, but this made me laugh:

Speakin’ truth to power, yo!

The next is more serious, and I think it would make a very effective 1-minute commercial as it stands, or maybe trimmed to a 30-second spot. Regardless, I’d be surprised if some conservative group such as Club for Growth or Americans for Prosperity haven’t contacted the maker already to acquire the rights to “Doorbell.”

This one’s apparently going viral.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Debt deal could cut funds to ObamaCare

August 4, 2011

You see? I told you there were good points to this Satan Sandwich! It turns out that, if the forthcoming “super-committee” can’t find the required $1.2 trillion in cuts and sequestration (automatic cuts) takes place, ObamaCare is not immune:

“There are at least 15 provisions of the Obama health care law that will find themselves subject to this trigger if the committee is not able to come up with other cuts,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). “When I look at these, I think it gives a huge incentive to the Democrats to find cuts. What would be triggered if we can’t find other cuts would cut right into the Obama health care law.”

Senate Republican leadership aides identified the potential funding cuts shortly after the law passed and are talking with the Congressional Budget Office to determine what parts of the law would be subject to sequestration.

The fact that the programs are vulnerable at all means Obama and congressional Democrats did not succeed in their attempts to shield the health reform law from the debt-deal trigger.

Obama had resisted efforts by congressional Republicans to make the law’s individual mandate a part of the trigger during earlier debt-limit negotiations. But while the final deal doesn’t directly target the health care law, the cuts to specific programs could still happen because of the way the law is written.

The debt ceiling law exempts several programs for the poor and those with low incomes, as defined by the 2010 Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act, called PAYGO. That law exempts Medicaid, Social Security and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, among other programs.

But it doesn’t protect the health law’s provisions because the definitions became law a month before the health law was passed.

“If you’re not on the list, you wouldn’t be protected,” said Edwin Park, vice president for health policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

This is going to endear The One to his already-cranky progressive base even more. Darn.

Of course, what really needs to be done is the total repeal of ObamaCare for economic, health, and political reasons; it’s a threat to the nation’s fiscal health, the individual’s physical health, and the citizen’s liberty.

But, until there’s a Republican-controlled Congress and a Republican president in 2013 that will enact the “Repeal Every Dumb Idea of the Last Four Years Act,” we’ll have to make do with whatever monkey-wrenches we can throw into the statist works.

And smile when we get the other side to help throw them in.

via Lance Thompson

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Power Line contest winner: “The Spending is Nuts!”

August 2, 2011

Here’s the winner of the Power Line contest for art in any medium that would best educate the public about our national debt problem. A modern-day Aesop’s Fable using squirrels and nuts to make it’s point, the video is by Justin Folk, who earns a cool $100,000 for his efforts:

I have to admit, this wasn’t my favorite (this one is), though I think it’s a worthy choice. It’s a bit long and lacks something of the laugh-out-loud humor that I think is so important when giving people a message that normally will scare them. (When you scare them, they may stop listening. Make them laugh, though… ) Folk, interestingly enough, creates the backgrounds for Andrew Klavan‘s marvelous videos, which I’ve often posted here. I think this would have been improved by having Andrew collaborate on the script.

But those are quibbles; I think it’s good. But, more importantly, I think this contest was a great idea, one that should be repeated. I wrote before that conservatives and libertarians need to engage in pop culture and the arts to get their views back into the marketplace of ideas where people are likely to see them and be influenced. For too long, that ground has been ceded to the liberals and the Left. (But I repeat myself), and efforts like this from Power Line or in general from sites such as Big Hollywood are invaluable.

I’m looking forward to next year’s contest.

PS: You can see all the best contest entries here.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Rubio: “Save the whole house, or it will all burn down”

July 31, 2011

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) addressed the Senate two days ago on on the question of raising America’s debt limit, making pointed references to the Democrats’ shifting positions and penchant for name-calling at concerned citizens. Senator Kerry (D-MA) thought he’d be smart and take Rubio on with a couple of questions.

Bad move, John:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: When you watch Marco Rubio, you are looking at a future president.

LINKS: via Fausta, Senator Rubio’s editorial from last March on the debt

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)