What I'd Cut

Kevin Drum has challenged me to detail how I'd balance budgets while keeping Bush's tax cuts. (A small clarification: I'd keep the estate tax as it once was; and I'd add a buck to the gas tax pronto.) I'd prefer experts like Brian Riedl or Veronique de Rugy to propose detailed cuts. But my back-of-the-envelope wish-list is that I'd repeal the Medicare drug entitlement, abolish ear-marks, institute a line-item veto, pass a balanced budget amendment, means-test social security benefits, index them to prices rather than wages, extend the retirement age to 72 (and have it regularly extended as life-spans lengthen), abolish agricultural subsidies, end corporate welfare, legalize marijuana and tax it, and eliminate all tax loopholes and deductions, including the mortgage deduction, (I'd keep the charitable deduction). For good measure, I'd get rid of the NEA and the Education Department. I'm not an economist, so I do not know whether this would do the trick entirely, and I'm open to debate on any of the particulars. But you get my drift. Maybe someone out there could do the math. I'm also fascinated by Charles Murray's new proposal to abolish the entire welfare state and replace it with with cash grants to individuals. I look forward to conservatives continuing to insist I'm a lefty. I also look forward to ferocious opposition from the left. But the bottom line is that the middle class and the prosperous elderly are far too pampered by government in this country. They need to get rid of their debilitating and unaffordable dependency.