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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Our Trump Issues

Michael Wilson wrote:

MW) It is estimated by the Comptroller General, in the GAO that in about 40 years if nothing is done the country will have to double taxes, or cut spending to pay the accumulating unfunded liabilities which today is about $54 trillion.  Google GAO and look for Fiscal Wake Up Tour.    Hopefully we can muster enough interest within the party to speak up loud and clear on this issue. (MW

Hear, hear!  I wrote the following editorial for our county LP newsletter in late 2004:

One massive problem will dominate American politics over the next decade and beyond, and it’s not influenza fatalities (>20K/yr) or terrorism (<3K/yr) or war (~1K/yr) or the Patriot Act (~0/yr). It’s entitlements.

Consider: 1) It’s by far the biggest problem — $50 trillion, vs. e.g. $0.5 trillion for Iraq. 2) The Demopublicans have only been making the problem worse. 3) Libertarians already have the right answer: privatization. 4) Intergenerational inequity implies longterm rewards for the party that awakens and champions the young. 5) The major parties are too addicted to the senior vote to co-opt us on this issue. 6) The Greens are too socialist to co-opt us on this issue.

Entitlement reform is clearly what the LP should declare as our trump issue. The Greens can’t follow suit, the major parties have bet too much on their losing hands, our policy ace is high, and the generational deck is totally stacked in our favor. To fold this winning hand would be sheer folly.

In 2005, the Republicans proved me right about point (5) by spectacularly failing to use their control of the federal government to even begin to start de-socializing the retirement industry.

Now here comes my inevitable quibble:

MW) But the big question no one seems to be dealing with is: Is it in the best interst of our U.S. allies to depend on our willingness, or ability to maintain our troops abroad to help defend these other nation when it is becoming financially difficult to do so? (MW

What is annual federal spending on Homeland Security and the so-called "War on Terror" (including Iraq)?  $170 billion.  How much does that figure go up if one claims that fully half of the rest of the DoD budget is for "policing the world"?  $240 billion.
What is annual federal spending on entitlements and "human services"?   $1.6 trillion.
"Troops abroad" is only "the big question" if you concede to the mainstream myth that entitlement spending is somehow "mandatory".  If I thought that keeping some troops in Germany and Korea would hasten the collapse of the nanny state, I might just be tempted to delay their trip home.  :-)
Our themes should be:
  • Stop piling liabilities our children and polluting their planet
  • Restore the Constitution and protect the entire Bill of Rights for all Americans
No other party can say they are for either of these two things -- not even the Greens or CP.