Monday, July 07, 2008

Walking the Walk: Can McCain Do It?

I caught a bit of a John McCain speech today. He is certainly "talking the talk" regarding fiscal responsibility. But can he really walk the walk? A message I received today from a government budget bureaucrat in response to my op-ed in the Free Lance-Star suggests not.

My correspondent, who I shall call Shallow Throat, says that our budgeting system is broken because at the unit level it builds in automatic yearly increases and fails to create incentives to cut back spending. If McCain wants my vote, he should address this important issue in a concrete way.

I suggested to Shallow Throat that what we need to do is to build in the expectation of annual budget decreases, at least in real (inflation-adjusted) terms. That way, front line government managers will have incentives to cut fat because the money that pays for it will disappear soon, and automatically.

2 comments:

billscottmorri said...

Does the federal government have the capability to reduce its expediture any more? Spending seem to operate on a one-way ratchet system with stakeholders gaining from squeezing more out of the pot, but getting nothing back for pursuing cuts.

Where is the incentive for Congress to make painful cuts, especailly in social expenditure?

Robert E. Wright said...

Bill,

I think the government has the capability of reducing expenditure (not sure what you mean by any more -- expenditures have been soaring). But you're right about the lack of incentive. All we have is the ballot box but when both parties want big (what am I saying -- GIGANTIC) government even that is a paper dagger. If only someone could invade us and impose democracy!