Sunday, August 14, 2005

Norquist and anti-tax lunacy

In a New Yorker profile of Grover Norquist, he advocates cutting the size of the government in half.

Assuming that he's talking about spending (which makes sense for an anti-tax advocate), he's either advocating eliminating the military, or eliminating everything but the military.

This page from the War Resisters' League shows that when you account for the DoD and VA budgets, nuclear weapons spending in the DoE and NASA budgets, as well as the cost of servicing debt generated by past military spending, we spend between 42% and 51% of the federal budget on military items.

That calculation excludes Medicare and Social Security Trust fund expenditures. Cutting income taxes won't change those expenditures, so that money isn't going anywhere.

Cutting the tax burden means eliminating our spending on the military, or eliminating all but the military. I doubt anyone but Norquist really wants either outcome. I like knowing that my meat is safe to eat. I like the interstates. I like knowing that Medicaid is available to people who get sick. I like the Smithsonian and the parks. I like clean water, clean air and protected endangered species. Hell, I think those are underfunded as it is.

In the comments, someone said that the way to make Kansas better would be to:
Reduce the size of state government by a third, reduce taxes accordingly, keep the damn casinos out, and pass concealed carry
According to the state's Budget Primer, 42% of the state's funds are spent on education (61% of the general fund goes to education, I'm not sure what the other sources are, though I imagine tuition helps cover some of the spread). If tuition makes up some of that difference, then we should split the difference and call it half. If the legislature upholds its responsibilities and raises spending, that percentage will only rise.

Approximately a third of the state spending goes to human resource, broadly speaking. Some of that is money that gets federal matching funds, other money is spent on pensions, benefits to employees and retired state employees, and other funds that can't be cut. The state could underfund programs for the sick, old, young and poor, but that seems foolish.

The next big budget item is transportation. Should we stop maintaining state roads? That'll save us 12% of the budget, all from dedicated funds from motor fuel taxes, federal grants, vehicle registration fees, and a dedicated one-fourth cent sales tax

Again, we could cut that, give up the money the feds give us, and have crappy roads, but that seems unlikely and unwise.

That leaves 11.9% of the total expenditures, including all of the spending on agricultural assistance, public safety, and basic regulatory activities (Board of Nursing, running elections, collecting taxes, running the courts, the legislature and the executive branch).

The only way to cut spending by 1/3 is to gut education spending. If we assume that 50% of tax revenue goes to education, we'd have to cut the education budget to 1/3 of its current level.

"Is our children learning?"