Monday, November 08, 2010

Limiting government won't be easy

In the wake of Tuesday there has been a good deal of brave talk about limiting government and reducing both spending and deficits; even Obamaites claim to be devoted to fiscal discipline (or is that only when the talk is of maintaining the Bush-level tax rates and the question is how to "pay for" those rates -- the implicit assumption of which is that everything you earn belongs of right to the government and you should be grateful that they allow you to keep anything).

As I explained in this book review, in the Register's Sunday Commentary section, John Samples's book "The Struggle to Limit Government" is a reminder that such limitation has been tried before, with decidedly mixed result. They got rid of a few agencies and programs during Reagan's presidency, and reduced the rate of growth of government spending, but didn't actually reduce spending year over year. Republicans thought they could force spending cuts when the voters gave them control of Congress in 1994, but Clinton outmaneuvered them. There's some evidence that some tea Partiers really want to get some cutting done this time, but we'll see how gutsy they are after actually being in power for a while. Usually that brings on contentment with the spending culture.

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