Starving The Beast, And The Bush Tax Cuts

Jillian Bandes
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Posted: Jul 16, 2010 8:52 AM
Pete Davis says Congress is likely to extend just a few of the Bush tax cuts through the end of the year, and then let them expire in full next year. That means when Republicans take over in November, they will have to deal with the tax cuts head-on. I hope that process will be influenced by the massive public opinion in favor of fiscal responsibility, and by the "starve the beast" theory.

Bruce Bartlett and Ezra Klein claim that "starving the beast" doesn't work. But I'll second Kevin Williamson at NR, and emphasize that cause and effect isn't necessarily the main point (though it would be nice):
So long as appropriators enjoy carte blanche to spend today while deferring taxes until they’re out of office (or even until they have shuffled off this mortal coil), then they will have bad incentives, and they will act in accord with those bad incentives.
When public opinion sides with those who keep their spending in check, those appropriators will have all the more reason to stay on the straight and narrow when it comes to taxpayer dollars. Starve the beast may or may not have worked in the past, but that's no reason for it to be abandoned now — especially when the court of public opinion is weighing in so strongly.