Candidate Mia love has gone on record to say that her priority is to "balance the budget," and to explain just how she'll do that. Setting aside the fact that the country has had a truly balanced budget for perhaps fifteen of the last two-hundred years, I'll admit that deficit spending is a problem. It's not the problem, as Love seems to think, but it's a problem.
But given the programs she's got in her sights, her solutions are akin to losing weight by taking a chainsaw to your leg.
Mia Love’s targets (via the Salt Lake Tribune):
Eliminate HUD housing programs.
Cut food subsidies by 50 percent
End K-12 subsidies
End college assistance
Cut Earned Income Tax Credit in half
End Environmental Protection Agency grants
Eliminate Corporation for National & Community Service (includes AmeriCorps)
Love would also privatize Amtrak, the air traffic control system, and the Army Corps of Engineers; end subsidies to the Public Broadcasting Service; eliminate various energy-efficiency and research programs; and cut various health department grants by half.
Her list is a Who's Who of the investments this country makes in itself. Cuts in education? Cuts to the EPA? Raising taxes on the poorest Americans by cutting the EITC? Make it harder -- or even impossible -- for the poor to find affordable housing? Stop refurbishing buildings to be more energy efficient? It seems like Mia Love's typifies the thinking of the modern Republican Party: If it makes our society more humane or invests in the future, it's got to go.
And here's the kicker. From the story: "[Love's plan] doesn’t touch the Defense Department, an area Love said she needs to understand better before recommending cuts." But she understands HUD well enough to eliminate it? She understands the EPA well enough to virtually defund it?
What we should do insteadAusterity has shrunk every economy where it's been tried, so cutting a dollar from anti-poverty programs is the same as taking a dollar from the till of the grocery store the recipient shops at. That's income the grocery store won't be paying taxes on, and if they lay off a worker as a result of the lost sales, you betcha we'll lose even more income with which to pay our debts. By contrast, the money we send to the wealthy in the form of tax cuts has little stimulus value; it will most likely sit in a bank account or go to pay down debt.
Further, the current national deficit is caused in part by the stagnant economy. When the economy is poor, wages go down which drives down revenues. Meanwhile, many of the anti-poverty programs like food stamps and unemployment need to pay out more. Speed up the economy, and both those problems are solved.
The "tough choice" may sound morally satisfying, but we're trying to run an economy, not put on some sort of Puritan morality play. The "smart choice" would be to continue assisting the people who are struggling, raise taxes on the "job creators" for doing such a sucky job creating jobs, and invest in the laundry list of things that will put us on the road to future economic solvency.
That list includes health care and nutrition programs for poor children (making them more productive down the road), investing in infrastructure (especially by remodeling buildings to increase their energy efficiency and expanding mass transit and Internet services), increasing funding for basic scientific research, and tightening regulations against the pollutants that have the most damaging effects on human health. For example, the new MACT regulations are supposed to drive up energy costs, but for every dollar added to the nation's electric bill, about $10 will be subtracted from our health care bill.
We should also be cutting expenditures where it doesn't make sense. The DoD is bloated and needs to be radically pared back or given a secondary mission. The justice department needs to stop wasting money trying to control marijuana. The FDA could do it way cheaper. Farm subsidies to any corporate entity with a budget of over $10M/year is just stupid.
But for the Love of Mia, cutting support for people who are trying to get an education? Cutting research on the next generation of energy technology? How does that make any sense?