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If and when Republicans win control of Congress, just how will they tame the federal beast?

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As Republican candidates for Congress prepare to start dancing in the streets in the wake of next month’s midterm elections, Eugene Robinson dares to RAIN ON THEIR PARADE with a troubling question or two.

An excerpt:

If the GOP takes control of one or both houses of Congress, voters will expect action to cut the federal beast down to size. All right, the 2010 budget was about $3.5 trillion. Where should the dragon-slayers begin to make meaningful cuts?

If you add up all the items generally thought of as mandatory — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment benefits, interest on the national debt — you’ve already spent about two-thirds of the total. Add in the close to $700 billion spent for defense, which Republicans hold as sacrosanct, and you’ve spent four-fifths of the budget. This leaves just one-fifth for “discretionary” programs, many of which aren’t discretionary at all. I doubt many Americans would want to risk going without food inspection, say, or air traffic control, or the FBI.

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