Obama is going to propose a freeze on discretionary spending to help rein in the budget. His proposals will affect roughly 3% of the budget. They’ll have no effect on non-discretionary spending, which includes programs like welfare, social security, veteran benefits, and payment of interest on the national debt. All of those have to be paid all the time, every time, according to federal law.
So what are the chances those spending cuts will be made in an election year? Slim to none. Times are hard and Congressmen want discretionary spending in their districts, even if it’s useless “pork barrel” spending on highways that go nowhere or condiment research projects (I’ve seen the guy that gets paid $70,000 a year to measure ketchup speed. Nice work if you can get it…). Congressmen may want to talk about cutting someone else’s program, but only to their constituents. In reality, they’re more likely to secure votes for their programs by promising to vote for everyone else’s program. That’s what we call logrolling.
It’s also what we call political economy. When a politician wants to get re-elected, he behaves in a way that’s often inconsistent with the way we want a politician to behave: in ourbest interests. Given that the way out of this current economic mess is to either experience pain now or to postpone the pain and feel a whole lot more later on, I bet we’ll see a lot of postponing and a lot of incumbents getting re-elected.
That’s a lot of concepts there… amazing how things happen to help the AP Government student understand the coursework…