Those Sacred Cows Look Mighty Tasty

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Eric Boehm notes that Rand Paul seems to be the only senator who's able to do basic arithmetic: If Republicans Want To Cut Spending, They Should Start With the Pentagon.

The fundamental problem for Republicans is that it's virtually impossible to balance the budget without cutting entitlements or the military. In fact, you'd have to cut 85 percent of the rest of the federal budget, according to an analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which advocates for lower deficits.

As much fun as that might be to watch, it's simply not politically possible.

Which means there is only one way forward, a way outlined on Wednesday by Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.).

"We have an opportunity here. It could be done. But it would take compromise between both parties," Paul said during a brief press conference held by a group of Senate Republicans. "Republicans would have to give up the sacred cow that says we will never touch a dollar in military [spending], and the Democrats would have to give up the sacred cow that they will never touch a dollar in welfare."

Mrs. Salad and I are watching October 2022 episodes of TiVo'd Celebrity Jeopardy!, and lordy are some of those celebrities dumb… Oops, sorry, that's not what I meant to say.

Here's what I meant to say: As an unwelcome side effect, I got to rewatch some of the attack ads against Don Bolduc (Republican running against Democrat Senator Maggie Hassan) and Karoline Leavitt (Republican running against Democrat CongressCritter Chris Pappas). Their modest—actually modest—proposals to reform entitlements were misrepresented, taken out of context, and scarified.

And it worked. Both Hassan and Pappas won easily.

I don't have much hope that we'll see any effort toward fiscal sanity in the near future.

Briefly noted:

  • The Josiah Bartlett Center's Drew Cline points out a continuing thorn in my side: The Interest & Dividends Tax is a New Hampshire disadvantage.

    Eight U.S. states have no income tax.

    New Hampshire is not one of them.

    The Interest & Dividends tax lingers. A tax on passive income is still a tax on income, and this one has given New Hampshire an asterisk by its name when listed among the nation’s low-tax states.

    At midnight on Dec. 31, 2020, Tennessee’s tax in interest and dividends ended, making it the eighth state with no tax on income. Six months later, New Hampshire legislators passed a budget that included a five-year phase out of our Interest & Dividends Tax.

    But with policymakers in other states chasing the New Hampshire Advantage ever more aggressively, there is interest in eliminating the I&D Tax by the end of 2023 rather than 2026.

    As Instapundit is wont to say: Faster, Please.

  • Jacob Sullum notes a dilemma for the enemies of the First Amendment: How Does California Define COVID-19 'Misinformation'? Judges Disagree, but Doctors Are Expected To Know.

    This week, a federal judge said California's definition of COVID-19 "misinformation" that can trigger disciplinary action against physicians is unconstitutionally vague. But in another case involving the same law last month, a different federal judge rejected that claim. That stark disagreement highlights the California State Legislature's carelessness in drafting this statute and the speech-chilling puzzle that doctors would face in trying to comply with it.

    Under A.B. 2098, which took effect on January 1, "it shall constitute unprofessional conduct for a physician and surgeon to disseminate misinformation or disinformation related to COVID-19, including false or misleading information" about "the nature and risks of the virus," "its prevention and treatment," and "the development, safety, and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines." The law defines "misinformation" as "false information that is contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus contrary to the standard of care."

    Jacob's bottom line:

    Two federal judges considered this statute and arrived at diametrically opposed conclusions about what it means. Slaughter, who was appointed by President Joe Biden last April after serving as a state judge in Orange County for eight years, thought the law's definition of misinformation was clear. Shubb, who was appointed by President George H.W. Bush in 1990, saw a hopeless muddle. Yet physicians without legal degrees or judicial experience are expected to figure out what the law requires, knowing that they are risking their licenses and livelihoods if they guess wrong. In those circumstances, self-censorship is both prudent and consistent with what California legislators apparently were trying to achieve.

    Or: Shut up, they explained.

  • Boston's Mayor Michelle Wu is trying to revive rent control in her city. Jeff Jacoby points out: As any economist can tell Mayor Wu, rent control never works.

    IN NOVEMBER 2021, voters in St. Paul, Minn., approved a strict new rent control measure that imposed a 3 percent annual ceiling on allowable rent hikes. Opponents warned that the new law would prove to be a disaster.

    It did.

    Before the law took effect, developers and builders moved quickly to freeze or cancel plans to erect new housing. During the first four months of 2022, the city issued just 200 residential building permits, compared with 1,391 during the same period a year earlier — an 86 percent drop. With energy costs and inflation surging, some landlords rushed to raise rents before the cap kicked in. Others notified tenants that they would henceforth have to pay a separate fee for utilities and trash pickup.

    As we've said in the past: when you claim that Policy X "doesn't work", you're usually assuming that politicians advocating X are being honest in their claims about what X will accomplish.

    I believe Mayor Wu's actual goal here is to throw red meat to the progressive know-nothings in her city, hence to get reelected. The damage her policies will cause is of minor importance.

Last Modified 2024-01-14 5:01 AM EDT