Tag Archives: washington post

Missing the Bigger Story

Here’s a letter I recently sent to the Washington Post:

Editor, Washington Post:

Anita Kumar’s November 29 Virginia Politics blog post “McDonnell recommends eliminating agencies, boards, commissions” incompletely details Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s “ongoing effort to reshape and shrink state government.” By deregulating three professions, eliminating two state agencies, and merging 19 others, $2 million could be trimmed from the commonwealth’s budget if the legislature approves the proposal.

She does not mention that Virginia’s budget is set to increase by $1.1 billion in 2012. This new spending outweighs the proposed cuts by a factor of 550. Gov. McDonnell may be modestly reshaping government, but he certainly isn’t shrinking it.

Ryan Young, Washington
The writer is a fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Poll: 14 Percent Approval Rating for Congress

The Washington Post does not paint a pretty picture:

For most it’s not just a casual dislike of Congress: Sixty-two percent say they “strongly disapprove” of congressional job performance. An additional 20 percent “somewhat” disapprove.

Only 3 percent of Americans said they “strongly approve” of the performance of lawmakers on Capitol Hill — essentially as low as possible, given the poll’s margin of error of four percentage points.

Congress is doing all it can to placate people who want it to do something, anything to help the economy. The trouble is that those somethings and anythings have been spectacularly ineffective.

Lawmakers need to do something about their do-something bias. Instead of more bailouts, financial regulations, stimuli, cash-for-clunkers, jobs bills, and the like, Congress should try a deregulatory stimulus. Besides stimulating the economy, it would likely stimulate approval ratings, too.

What Shrinking Government?

I have a letter to the editor in today’s Washington Post:

Richard Cohen fretted that Tea Party activists have “shrunk the government.” He need not worry. Federal spending has gone from $2.9 trillion in 2008 to $3.8 trillion in 2011. Thirty percent spending growth in three years is hardly shrinkage. Even under the Boehner plan, federal spending will continue to increase every year for at least the next decade.

Meanwhile, federal agencies continue to finalize more than 3,500 new regulations per year. They repeal almost none, no matter how loud the Tea Party’s howls.

If anything, Tea Party activists have been devastatingly ineffective at shrinking government. Mr. Cohen can rest easy.

Ryan Young, Washington

The writer is a fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Worth a Thousand Words

From today’s Washington Post:

Via David Boaz, who adds,

Does this look like the record of policymakers making sensible decisions, running surpluses in good year and deficits when they have to “address national security and economic emergencies”? Of course not. Once Keynesianism gave policymakers permission to run deficits, they spent with abandon year after year.

2010’s Record Election Spending Is Surprisingly Small

The Washington Post has a breathless write-up of this year’s midterm election spending:

In the latest sign of this year’s record-breaking election season, an independent research group estimated Wednesday that candidates, parties and outside interest groups together could spend up to $4 billion on the campaign.

$4 billion is a lot of money. The Post’s opinion staff writer thinks that’s frightening. $4 billion, of course, comes to $12.90 per person in a nation of 310 million people. So maybe not.

A bit more context: federal spending costs $11,290.32 per person. Regulation costs another $5,645.16 per person. That’s a total burden of $16,935.48 per person. American democracy is a very expensive form of government with surprisingly inexpensive elections.

Spending $12.90 to influence $3.5 trillion in spending and another $1.75 trillion in regulating seems like too little election spending, not too much. Total election spending is about the same as it was in 2000, when the federal budget was under $2 trillion.

Still, for a midterm, this year’s election spending is historically high. And a lot of people think there is too much money in politics. Fortunately, there is a surefire way for them to fix the problem: get politics out of our money.

Republicans and Democrats alike have made it clear that they have little interest in fundamental economic reform. So maybe the Post is right that they aren’t worth spending $12.90 on.

Unfortunately, as long as the Bush-Obama spending and regulating binge continues, people will be spending a lot more than $12.90 to get a piece of the action.