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.
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.