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Democrats everywhere are lamenting the idea of cutting government spending. They stand at the ready with every sob story in the book to explain how cutting a penny of government spending is going to cause schools to close, poor people to starve, or kids to be malnourished.
This represents the timeless strategy of the Democrat left and the unending frustration of conservatives. Every time conservatives start addressing the obvious need to trim back the size of government, liberals find the people who will be affected by that trimming back, hold them up as the victims of a cruel conservative assault and sway public opinion to support their disastrous status quo.
Is there a way around it? Is there a good counter method for conservatives to pursue? Thomas Sowell thinks so. In his recent column, he analogizes this battle to MacArthur's strategy in the WWII Pacific: don't waste time and effort on attacking heavily defended enemy positions that you don't have to take.
Instead, focus on areas of significance, but ones that are much more difficult for the left to defend:
My plan would start by cutting off all government transfer payments to billionaires. Many, if not most, people are probably unaware that the government is handing out the taxpayers' money to billionaires. But agricultural subsidies go to a number of billionaires. Very little goes to the ordinary farmer.
Big corporations also get big bucks from the government, not only in agricultural subsidies but also in the name of "green" policies, in the name of "alternative energy" policies, and in the name of whatever else will rationalize shoveling the taxpayers' money out the door to whomever the administration designates ? for its own political reasons.
The usual political counterattacks against spending cuts will not work against this new kind of spending-cut approach. How many heart-rending stories can the media run about billionaires who have lost their handouts from the taxpayers? How many tears will be shed if General Motors gets dumped off the gravy train?
It would also be eye-opening to many people to discover how much government money is going into subsidizing all sorts of things that have nothing to do with helping "the poor" or protecting the public. This would include government-subsidized insurance for posh and pricey coastal resorts that are located too dangerously close to the ocean for a private insurance company to risk insuring them.
But what about the big three of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid?
Those programs are a tightening noose around the neck of the American economy. Can we really pretend they aren't a problem while focusing on just these other areas? Of course not...but the way in which we approach these three is what matters:
Instead of attacking these programs as a whole, what is far more vulnerable is the compulsory aspect of these programs. If Medicare is so great, why is it necessary for the government to force people to be covered by Medicare as a precondition for receiving the money they paid into Social Security?
Many people with private health insurance would rather continue to rely on that, instead of being trapped in Medicare red tape. It is not a question of taking away Medicare but allowing people to opt out, saving the taxpayer from having to subsidize something that many people don't want.
It is not a question of forcing people off Social Security either. But private retirement accounts can offer a better deal.
Even someone who retires when the stock market is down is almost certain to get a bigger pension from a decent mutual fund than from Social Security.
By giving young people the option, while continuing to honor commitments to retirees and those nearing retirement age, the sob-story defense of runaway spending can be nipped in the bud.
Now, approaching it this way doesn't mean that Democrats won't try their timeless strategy of weaving a sob story. We have seen unscrupulous Democrats mislead and distort the truth about such efforts before (remember Silent Joe Donnelly's dishonest and shameful attack on Jackie Walorski for wanting to "gamble away" Social Security on the stock market). But that's where the Tea Party can do its part to spread the word.
By addressing these topics in these ways, conservatives can not only disarm the Democrats, they can realize the very cuts necessary to save the Republic.