Monday, August 30, 2010

Less Is More

File this story in the "Be Careful What You Wish For" bin. A politician is running for the US Senate on a platform which promises to reduce the budget deficit by cutting back on pork for his own state.

Joe Miller, the surprise leader in Alaska's unresolved Republican Senate primary, said Sunday that the growing national debt requires a "belt tightening" that should include cutting back on federal dollars that his state receives.

Miller's holds that position, articulated throughout his campaign against incumbent GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski, despite Alaska's historic reliance on federal resources, needed to develop the vast territory of the young state.

Now, this sounds terrific in the abstract, especially coming from a candidate whose state became a symbol of wasteful government spending with its "Bridge To Nowhere" a few years back. The late Sen. Ted Stevens was a master at bringing pork home to Alaska, and the current senator, Lisa Murkowski, was rapidly developing those skills during her term. Mr. Miller sounds like he wants to be a reformer in that respect, and one can't help but admire such a stance, at least up to a point.

That said, however, one also should keep in mind just what is going on here. Mr. Miller, backed by the Tea Party and by Sarah Palin, really wants the federal government to butt out completely. His target isn't just bridges which don't connect populated or popular places, it's any federal money which comes with federal strings. That would, of course, include such things as Medicaid, education, highway funds, welfare, job development funds and any other program which the Galtian libertarians eschew.

Oh, I'm sure Mr. Miller doesn't want any cuts in the military expenditures which might remove a base or installation from Alaska. The federal government should, after all, be responsible for the national defense and Alaska, because of its location, is important to the national defense. Any other expenditures, however, should be closed down.

The theory, of course, is that by cutting out the pork, the deficit would disappear and taxes could be cut, leaving Alaskans with more money to spend the way each wants to. Fine. Let's see how that plays out during the next oil field disaster, or the next earthquake, or the next economic implosion.

Now, let's hear from some of the other Red states, those which, like Alaska, get far more dollars from Washington than they send to Washington. Many of the Gulf states won't need all those clean up dollars from the feds. They can clean up the mess themselves and be the better for it.

This is going to be kind of fun to watch.

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