“Hey, look over there! There are some really expensive programs over there!” Mike Kinsley criticizes one of the most annoying liberal arguments against cutting the fat in government–the Willie Sutton argument, or “Why bother to cut the fat in these agencies and programs when the really big budget busters are entitlements like Medicare and Social Security”:
It’s also true, but unconvincing, that the whole budget debate is focusing on the smallest part of federal spending — discretionary spending — and ignoring the big bucks, which are in inexorably rising health care costs. Given all past experience, a perfectly adequate reaction to the Obama administration’s claims that health care reform will save the government money is, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” But that is no reason not to show more discipline on smaller matters. Every little bit helps.
You’d think a good GOP budget-cutting argument would be: “They’re talking about cutting Social Security and Medicare costs to control the deficit, but it would be wrong to cut even a dollar from someone’s Social Security checks or Medicare to pay for unnecessary bureaucrats in Washington.” … P.S.: If you don’t believe there is still plenty of fat in the non-discretionary budget then you have never worked in Washington. There is, for one thing, a whole affirmative action/equal employment compliance bureaucracy that makes at best a secondary contribution to the public good. And here is the organizational chart for HUD’s DC headquarters. … P.P.S.: Dick Morris argues that while Social Security and Medicare are big they aren’t the categories that have increased under Obama.