Thursday, April 14, 2011

The false lure of easy answers on the federal budget

A proposal making the rounds in D.C. would limit total federal spending to 20.6 percent of gross domestic product. While that might sound attractive to some, implementing the idea would produce a range of undesirable consequences, according to a new paper from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

"It would inevitably force enormous cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, and possibly Social Security," the paper says.

It's hard enough for government leaders to respond to changing economic and social conditions. Funding public services according to an arbitrary, inflexible forumla only further ties their hands. Easy answers like spending caps often sound good until you dig into the details.

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