Streamlining Has Its Limits
Reihan continues to insist that we focus on cutting inefficiencies in government:
If the Milwaukee Public Schools spend twice as much as choice schools to deliver the same results in terms of reading and math scores, I'd say MPS can dig deeper, ideally be restructuring compensation and giving workers more autonomy. If one-fifth of public dollars spent on infrastructure are essentially wasted, as Barry LePatner argues in his brilliant new book Too Big To Fall, which I'll discuss in greater detail soon, I'd say the bureaucracies we've placed in charge of public construction projects can dig deeper, ideally by doing a better job of sharing data and using life cycle assessments. If we could reduce Medicare expenditures by 8% per year by creating a competitive pricing system, I'd say the federal government can dig deeper by making a commonsense reform that will leave the quality of Medicare unchanged if not markedly improved...
If I honestly believed that the federal government was not flagrantly wasting vast amounts of gasoline and coal, that it was offering high-quality services to poor, working, and middle-income households, and that its investments in roads and bridges were being deployed effectively, I would feel very differently than I do about the prospect of tax increases on people like my parents, who spent my childhood working four jobs between them to gain a foothold in the middle class.
Here's a question for him: How much money does he imagine we can save by making government more efficient? And what percentage of the budget deficit does he think we can close without raising taxes?
The prudent course is seeking efficiency, spending less and raising taxes. Our hole is that deep.