Conservatives in Congress in the past few years have claimed to be deficit-driven, and have been elected on such platforms. And this is excellent. If we have to put our nickel down on possible reasons the United States wouldn't be around in a century, near the top of the list is our inability to control our spending or match it to our revenues. This can't go on forever. China will only loan us so much money. The inability of smaller municipalities to control themselves highlights this problem, but at least the poor bastards in San Bernardino (and many other cities) can move, and still be in their home country.
We need some grown-ups to make some cuts, and hurt some people. Conservatives, we need you to recognize that when you make these cuts, you will hurt some people, and some of them will be in your district. Otherwise you will never really make any cuts, and we will either find other grown-ups, or the country will fail.
We voters can be forgiven for thinking that conservatives aren't serious about this, because even when they're given the chance to do it, they don't. (As a voter, I very much want them to.) Sure, they're good at stunts, but somehow that doesn't translate into the serious work of cutting individual programs piecemeal, if that's the only option open.
Put another way: we hear a lot from supposed fiscal conservatives about government pork, until it's in their district; and when we try to cut those, well, that's hurting America. (Or whatever you have to say to conceal that you're never really going to cut anything.) Yes, we all know this happens, conservatives, because all those pork dollars go to the big donors who, in turn, are the source of your campaign contributions. But we voters are sick of
hearing "conservatives" repeat "cut spending" and then doing nothing, and this basic fact is getting harder to hide from. You're either going to have to actually do something, or admit that you're just a spender who pretends to be a fiscal conservative for votes.
What are some things that grown-up non-hypocrite fiscal conservatives can cut?
- Make the military budget cost less by auditing the DoD. The savings here make non-medical entitlement reform look like the drop in a bucket it is. In some cases even after the Army said it didn't want tanks, it was forced to take them by Congress. Way to go conservatives!
- End the drug war, and tax the proceeds. You're paying to keep a lot of people in prison and out of productive jobs. You're paying cops with big pensions. You're paying for border security, that has to be there as long as drug money is flowing south into Mexico, along with the weapons that money buys down there. Don't wait for the drug/police complex to ask you to spend less money on them. It's the police and the cartels that benefit from our tax dollars. If you refuse to do this, you're again showing us you're not serious about cutting spending.
- Stop farm subsidies. This is the most egregious, and the one that there's no good reason for, other than you have friends back home. Any legislator who renews farm subsidies does not believe in the free market.
- Add expiration dates to regulations. Regulations cost business money and become obsolete, but industries spring up around these regulations and fight to avoid having them changed or removed. Unless what you're really doing is supporting your friends back home, you should support this proposal, which has been around for awhile now with a lot of conservative intellectual firepower behind it.
- Measure legislator effectiveness. Unless conservatives think the other guys are more accountable than you, conservatives should ask for projections to be put on bills - how much will this cost? How much will it save? How long will it take? - and then have there be some effect if the actual result is way out of bounds. We penalize contractors who screw up (I hope), why not stupid lawmakers? Don't you expect that they're on the other side of the aisle anyway?