Doctors need to do two things: correctly diagnose a problem and then prescribe the correct solution. The same goes for political pundits. Ezra Klein is halfway there.
In the Washington Post recently, Klein noted that California’s budget crisis is a warning. Klein, however, points the finger in the wrong direction: at the “minority party” (Republicans) that refuses to “cast aside” its “bickering” even though the state faces “an emergency.” “California is in a total fiscal crisis,” Klein writes. Yet, he claims, “It’s had to slash state services to the bone and will have to cut further.” This is something of a mantra on the left -- to insist that government spending has been “slashed,” and always “to the bone.”
But has it?
In the 2009 budget, California lawmakers planned to spend $62 billion on education, up from $39.1 billion in 2001. The entire state budget has jumped to $131 billion in 2009, from $99 billion in 2001. Maybe lawmakers could dust off that 2001 budget and use it as a starting point -- there’s $40 billion in savings right there.
But lawmakers never bother to discuss cutting spending. In good times (when more tax revenue is flowing in) and bad (when Keynesians wrongly insist government spending can boost the economy), governments spend more each year. Klein doesn’t see it that way. “No one who watched the health care bill wind its way through the legislative process believes Congress is ready for the much harder and more controversial cost-cutting that will be necessary in the future,” he writes.
Well, the passive voice ignores the fact that one of the biggest backers of Congress’ health “reform” package is: Ezra Klein. He’s used his perch at the Post to stump repeatedly for big spending on health care.
Also, Klein writes that since the early 1990s, “Congress has been virtually incapable of doing anything difficult because the minority party will either block it or run against it.” But if the problem our country faces is an explosion in spending (and that’s exactly what Klein says in this piece), it isn’t “obstructionism” to block a massive (and unwanted and unconstitutional) entitlement bill -- it’s only common sense.
The logic behind the Senate health bill is that the federal government can save a few hundred billion dollars by spending more than a trillion. If you believe that, I’ve got some swamp land in California to sell.