Following the fiscal cliff debacle, we heard Republican politicians recite the claim that they would, first, demand federal budget cuts and, second, demand that President Obama provide specific cuts in that federal budget for our next federal ‘crisis’, the debt limit extension. There are only two problems with that. Obama will never provide specific cuts now; the opportunity for that ended this week. As well, nobody who has examined Republican politicians this century can reasonably argue that they actually believe in spending cuts, other than cutting Big Bird. That’s fine, I guess. But, assuming that someone, anyone, in the GOP wants to win a quadrennial election in the near future, they must present a reasonable alternative to the Democrats.

what we can typically anticipate in the near future is that Republicans will name some trivial cuts that they know that Democrats won’t accept (can you say Planned Parenthood), the Democrats will say no, and politicians of both parties will then go on cable news to pretend that they care. So, I’ve come up with some suggestions that might help them out. The following list are some spending cuts and one tax increase that House Republicans should consider if they want people to believe that they have an articulate vision for the federal government in the 21st century. Each of these could become law, I think, if Republicans actually cared about them.

• Get rid of the Medicare expansion that was enacted during Bush2’s tenure. I understand why well-off older people would want government to subsidize all of their medical costs; why Republicans somehow believe that this is a government function bewilders me. If people want insurance, buy it themselves…even if they’re old.
• Cut the defense budget. How silly is it that Republicans continually argue that government is bloated and inefficient, except for the biggest government department. The real rationale for keeping the defense budget high is that most bases are located in the South. So, in effect, this is just pork barrel spending.
• Get rid of almost all agricultural subsidies and other corporate subsidies. Virtually all of this money goes to big corporations. It might be nice if the USA, the bastion of free market enterprise, allows major companies the opportunity to stand on their own two feet.
• Greatly reduce federal involvement in public education. The purpose of this is so that the rest of the country subsidizes schools in the part of the nation that doesn’t believe in education as a public good. Well, one of the better things about a federal system is that, if you want to live in a place where people can add and subtract, and read and write, you can. If you want to live in a place where football is king, you can. If you really want your kids to learn, move.
• Finally, the tax increase. Currently, the maximum earned income for Social Security taxation is $110,000. What sense does this make? After a decade of the GOP inferring that the only tax people actually pay is income tax, and right after Social Security deductions for most people have taken place, now is the time to do this.

I have other favorites, of course. I despise that our foreign aid is merely a way for us to prop up socialist/terrorist/outlaw nations, for example. But this is actually only a small piece of government spending. I also don’t understand why airports get so much federal money. Down here, for example, we have two airports that are both pretty nice, both built almost exclusively with federal money, and both of which are nice, secluded places to read since there are so few flights. If you want to add your own cuts, feel free. All I would ask is that they actually involve real money, not Big Bird money.