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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/6284/lbj-would-be-proud/

LBJ Would Be Proud

February 20, 2007 by

of Bush’s $3 trillion budget for FY 2008, but why is the “conservative” Heritage Foundation praising the president for—are you ready—reining in entitlement costs? Concludes Brian Riedl:

The President deserves praise for beginning a long overdue examination of unsustainable entitlement costs. He makes strong proposals that take the first steps to rein in entitlement spending and set the stage for a serious discussion of these unaffordable programs.

Is it the Heritage Foundation or the Bush Foundation?


Dennis February 20, 2007 at 7:47 pm

Well, in the bizarro world that the “conservative” movement has been in since the demise of the Old Right in the early-to-mid 1950s, comments such as Mr. Riedl’s and the ideology of the Heritage Foundation make sense.

Bill, Former Conservative February 20, 2007 at 9:52 pm

The Heritage Foundation through Mr. Reidl is simply trying to fool its readers by telling a lie so large that the readers will hopefully think that they feel stupid for questioning the premise. It is a normally unsuccessful, risky yet old strategedy used by liars and losers.

The only problem for the Heritage Foundation and the like is that people are questioning the premise.

Brian Riedl February 21, 2007 at 9:30 am

Mr. Vance, the President has put forth a strong proposal to shave $8 trillion off Medicare’s 75-year liability. It is a strong, credible proposal that is beginning to attract bipartisan support, particularly in the Senate….

I would assume the Von Mises Institute would support such reforms….

If free-marketers are going to criticize the President for worsening the long-term entitlement picture (as Heritage repeatedly has over the past few years), perhaps it would be constructive to also encourage him when he puts forth a strong proposal to reverse some of that damage….

Put more simply: we can just whine about past unjustified spending increases, or we can support proposals to reverse them….

I’ll choose the latter…..

Brian Riedl,
The Heritage Foundation

David White February 21, 2007 at 10:32 am

Mr. Riedl:

As Andre Gide said, “The hypocrite is one who ceases to perceive his deception, one who lies with sincerity.” So as much as I appreciate your sincerity, I would ask that you first look to the source of our fiscal woes, as so well summarized by the only libertarian member of Congress:


And to understand the sincerity of the Republican Party, I can do no better than direct you to Lew Rockwell’s offering this morning:


RogerM February 21, 2007 at 10:33 am

It’s good to know that Mr. Riedl pays attention to the Mises blog. I have to agree with him that the posting was unfair to the Heritage Foundation. Libertarians shouldn’t always be contrarians under all circumstances, but should recognize and reward progress, no matter how small.

The real problem with Medicare is that so much of the money goes to the middle class and wealthy. The program would be much smaller if it helped just the poor, and that seems to be the direction Bush is trying to move the program.

I have another suggestion for programs aimed at the elderly (Medicare, Medicaid, SS): tie the benefits to the income of children. For example, Pell grants for college tuition are based on the income of parents as well as the income of the students, assuming that parents are responsible for the expenses of children. But when it comes to taking care of the elderly, we assume that children have no responsibilities. We shouldn’t. Currently, the parents of very wealthy children are receiving Medicare and Medicaid; they shouldn’t. We should means test not just the parents, but the children as well. That would reduce the expenses to the taxpayer dramatically.

Bill February 21, 2007 at 10:41 am

Brian Riedl:

Aren’t you getting tired of the future spending reductions? Don’t you think Bush and his team are just blowing smoke? They will balance the budget in 4 years. This is convienent because he will not be president then when the Congress has to fight off entrenched lobbies who want the money.

I am sick of it. We have two wars that we have NO IDEA how much they cost and will continue to cost into the FAR future in Veterans benefits alone. Add that to 500BIL in defense spending. Add that to a NEW prescription drug entitlement.

What in all of this leads me to have any confidence in Bush or anyone around him to do anything.

Oh yeah, he has a history of 7% or higher increases in spending during his administration.

RogerM February 21, 2007 at 10:57 am

David, I read Lew’s column and liked it for the most part. But he also writes “But these days we see all around us how liberty generates order and how this order is self-sustaining.”

I think he’s correct about liberty generating order in Anglo-Saxon cultures, but I’m suspicious that it will happen elsewhere. Culture has a lot of influence on the outcomes of liberty. Christopher Coyne and Peter Boettke have a good article on that subject in the recent Journal of Austrian Econ–”The Role of the Economist in Economic Development”.

Axel Riemer February 21, 2007 at 12:22 pm

Mr. Reidl

8 Trillion over 75 years.. while this sounds very large compared to a $3 Trillion budget – doing some division gets you to a much more insignificant number of around $13 billion annually.

I’m not impressed. I don’t thank a thief for giving me a couple bills out of the wallet he just took from me.

And I’m certainly not going to praise Bush for spending more than any other president ever, in a particularily insane manner!

“Everything a government spends must eventually be paid by its citizens” (someone back me up on where this comes from – I’m sure I mutilated the actual quote) – and I’m not happy about that.

Laurence M. Vance February 21, 2007 at 6:37 pm

Mr. Riedl of the Heritage Foundation wants me to encourage a liar and a war criminal who has made war on the Bill of Rights. Instead of reversing something, Bush is going full speed in the opposite direction. Has Mr. Riedl forgotten about Bush’s prescription drug plan? Is $200 million a day wasted on a senseless war reversing anything? The federal budget has increased by $1 trillion under Bush and his Republican worshippers in Congress. Bush doesn’t need encouragement, he needs impeachment.

Brian Riedl February 21, 2007 at 8:09 pm

Just to be sure I understand:

1)The 2% of GDP spending hike under President Bush has really angered the posters here;

2) The posters here strongly dislike President Bush;


3) You register this anger by *opposing* efforts to scale back an entitlement tsunami that will soon increase spending by a massive 20% (!!) of GDP — an increase 10 times larger than the one you are angry about.

The reason we need to focus on the 75-year numbers more than today’s budget, is because the 2001-07 increases are mere pennies compared to what’s coming.

We have a choice between a Medicare program with a 75-year debt of $31 trillion, or $23 trillion (a difference of much, much more than $13B per year, Axel). We have a chance to take a first step by chopping a full 25% off Medicare’s long-term debt.

The posters here are effectively choosing the full $31 trillion in future debt, simply because they don’t like the man proposing the reform.

Rest assured, the far left will thank you. The next generation may not.

Brian Riedl
Heritage Foundation

Dennis February 21, 2007 at 8:40 pm

“Has Mr. Riedl forgotten about Bush’s prescription drug plan?”

Excellent point Mr. Vance. And may I add that the prescription drug plan was passed in plenty of time to be talked-up to the electorate before the 2004 elections.

Brian Riedl February 21, 2007 at 9:21 pm

Yes Dennis, the best way to fight Bush’s past $8 trillion Medicare drug expansion…..
….is to oppose his new $8 trillion Medicare spending cut.

That makes sense.

Brian Riedl
Heritage Foundation

Vince Daliessio February 21, 2007 at 10:32 pm


Not to doubt your sincerity, but we all know the game, the spending begins immediately, the cuts are in the “out” years, rescindable at any time…

Come on, some of us here want to hear real reform proposals, but Heritage is looking more and more detached from reality.

Brian Riedl February 21, 2007 at 11:26 pm

Terrific, Vince, identify a way to cut $8 trillion out of today’s $2.9 trillion budget, I’ll be thrilled to support it.

Here is why to focus on the long-term: The FY 2008 budget debate is on the margins – the difference between liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans amount to maybe $20 billion per year. The most radical proposals would cut maybe $40 billion per year (and would get maybe 20 votes)

By comparison, Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid increases will be big enough to *double* the entire federal budget. You dont like Bush’s 2% of GDP spending hike? What until entitlements increase it by 20% of GDP.

And no, this isn’t some distant future policy. The first baby boomers retire on Jan 1 1998. This is immediate. Hell its 40% of the budget today.

So fine, you can focus on the FY 2008 spending debate. You can fight the nearly impossible fight to cut a couple billion in 2008. I’ll fight the winnable fight to cut $39 trillion in new costs that begin on Jan. 1 2008.

Brian Riedl
Heritage Foundation

David White February 22, 2007 at 8:02 am

Mr. Riedl:

It’s nothing more than a “Beltway cut”:

If you’ve followed media reports about the budget, you might have the impression that the Bush budget actually cuts spending overall. The Boston Globe, for instance, reported “deep cuts” in the Bush plan. But only by the pretzel logic of Washington could an overall spending increase of 4 percent, as Bush has proposed, be considered a cut. It’s what you might more accurately call a “Beltway cut.”

Here’s how it works: Assume government spending will continue to grow annually by seven percent on average, as it has for the past six years. Then imagine you only get a four percent increase this year. Official Washington would see this as a three-percentage point cut. It’s the fiscal equivalent of a recovering alcoholic drinking only two and a half beers instead of the whole six-pack before the A.A. meeting.

Another example of the Beltway cut is the president’s proposal for Medicare, a program which is already racking up an estimated $32 trillion dollar deficit over the next 75 years. The new budget simply reduces the expected growth of the program from an average of 6.5 percent each year to 5.6 percent. That modest decrease in the rate of expansion was enough to make the New York Times editorial board livid, calling it an attempt to “slash key entitlement programs.”

The Bush proposal does include some useful structural changes to Medicare that could reduce the long-term deficit in that program by $8 trillion. But even that is yet another version of the Beltway cut. His Medicare drug benefit has already increased those unfunded liabilities by more than $8.7 trillion. His proposals still leave a $700 billion hike intact.


As for disliking Bush, what the posters here don’t like — what libertarians, properly speaking, don’t like — is the state, no matter who’s running it. We realize that statists like yourself are incapable of grasping this, since political partisanship is the box in which you live and which you cannot begin to think outside of. But be assured that the outside exists and that when the state’s “shabby secret” is finally revealed — http://www.usagold.com/gildedopinion/Greenspan.html — the “sincerity” of people like yourself will be on full display.

Bill February 22, 2007 at 8:11 am

You are preaching to the Choir of Skeptics of which I am a big one being a former Conservative.

You are assuming that Bush is not telling a lie. We are. We have his personal history of racking up huge deficits and increasing government.

Bush has placed himself with LBJ and FDR in his increasing of the size and scope of our government. HE EVEN INCREASED THE BUDGET OF THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS?

Also, %2 of GDP DOES MATTER. This is money stolen from future investment. Think of it this way. I put 10% of my salary into my 401K. If I put 2% more I would have hundreds of thousands of dollars more at retirement. He just stole that money from the citizens not even born yet.

Brian Riedl February 22, 2007 at 8:46 am

Alright, the people here have spoken. You prefer to register your disapproval with Bush’s $8 trillion Medicare drug expansion, by *opposing” his new efforts to cut $8 trillion out of Medicare. That makes sense. Enjoy the bigger government and larger liability. We’ll be busy supporting reforms (by anyone) to scale back government.

Over and out

Brian Riedl
Heritage Foundation

RogerM February 22, 2007 at 10:27 am

I think you misunderestimate the people you’re debating on this blog. For anarchists, the state itself is immoral, so anyone participating in it is evil, regardless of what he does. Those people aren’t interested in politics, which is the art of compromise and incremental changes; they want a total destruction of the state or nothing. As a result, unless Bush can find a way to destroy the state and immediately implement their anarchist vision, he’s satan, a murderer, thief and liar.

On the other hand, we libertarians in the minority who struggle with the difficulties of reality and politics very much appreciate anything Bush does to rein in government spending.

David White February 22, 2007 at 10:48 am

RogerM, that is categorically untrue. I would vote for real change — Ron Paul for president, for example — but know that’s a pipe dream. Thus do I await the only vote that really counts and that’s the vote we are presently denied: namely, the right to secede.

But it’s only a matter of time before the situation worsens to the point that organizations like this — http://www.vtcommons.org — carry the day.

And besides, why to you think the Governator is now comparing California to a “nation-state” — http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F10710FB355B0C738DDDAB0894DF404482

As for politics, its sole objective, properly speaking, is liberty, and insofar as it has abandoned its proper objective — and it has — any libertarian worthy of the name would wash his hands of it.

Michael A. Clem February 22, 2007 at 1:16 pm

The President deserves praise for beginning a long overdue examination of unsustainable entitlement costs. He makes strong proposals that take the first steps to rein in entitlement spending and set the stage for a serious discussion of these unaffordable programs.

My problem is the tentative nature of the proposal. “Examination”? “first steps”? “set the stage”? “serious discussion”? With that many conditionals, it’s not gonna happen.

Kevin B February 22, 2007 at 4:28 pm


You can keep politics and compromise. I’ll stick to contracts and negotiation.

“struggle with the difficulties of reality”

I can see that. Rather than hoping to obtain rightful liberty through the political process, it may be more productive to ask Santa Claus to bring you freedom for Christmas.

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