It isn’t often that I conclude that Dan Mitchell misses the mark, but this time I do. He has a rule: “The private sector should grow faster than the government.” I like my rule better: “The federal government’s budget should follow the limitations of the Constitution.”
From his rule flows all sorts of mischief. He says Ryan’s new budget plan (his third in three years) is “sort of doing the right thing” by allegedly slowing government growth in spending by a little bit. See how that is phrased? “Slow the growth in government spending.” The reality is that Ryan’s budget (which I don’t think has a prayer) doesn’t cut government spending at all. It reminds me of a fellow trying to tackle the ball carrier by riding on his back. He really doesn’t hope to stop him from running down the field. He just hopes to slow him down a little bit.
Mitchell damns Ryan’s bill with faint praise: “The Ryan Budget does satisfy [my] Golden Rule of fiscal policy. [Under Ryan's plan] federal spending grows by an average of 3.4% annually, and that modest bit of fiscal discipline is enough to reduce the burden of government spending to 19.1 percent of economic output by 2023.”
But let’s look closer. At 3.4% growth every year, the federal government will double in size in less than 23 years! Is that what we (Mitchell, Ryan) really want?
This is not a libertarian budget [whatever that means]. Federal spending will still be far too high. Indeed, the budget [under Ryan] will consumer a larger share of the economy than it did when Bill Clinton left office.
Ryan is bending with the Washington winds, I’m afraid. Mitchell sees it but doesn’t say it:
No it won’t. Ryan’s bill hasn’t a prayer of passing and becoming law. Translation? Government is gong to grow much faster than 3.4% a year. If it grows at 7% a year, the federal government will double its size in 10 years, not 22.
Hey, Mitch, why not mention the Constitution? At least once, anyway? I like my rule better than yours.