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How do you like Andrea True’s federal government?


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Mark Steyn

I see Andrea True died earlier this month. The late disco diva enjoyed a brief moment of global celebrity in 1976 with her ubiquitous glitterball favorite: 

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How do you like it?
How do you like it?
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How do you like it?
How do you like it?

In honor of Andrea’s passing, I have asked my congressman to propose the adoption of this song as the U.S. national anthem. True, Miss True wrote the number as an autobiographical reflection on her days as a porn-movie actress but, consciously or not, it accurately distills the essence of American governmental philosophy in the early 21st century: excess even unto oblivion.

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When it comes to spending and the size of government, only the Democrats are officially panting orgasmically, “More More More, How do you like it?” while the Republicans are formally committed to “Less less less.” This makes for many dramatic showdowns on the evening news. In the summer, it was the “looming” “deadline” to raise the debt ceiling. In the fall, it was the “looming” “deadline” for the alleged supercommittee to agree $1.2 trillion of cuts. The supercommittee was set up as a last-minute deal for raising the debt ceiling. Now that the supercommittee’s flopped out, “automatic” mandatory cuts to defense and discretionary spending are supposed to kick in — by 2013. But no doubt, as that looming deadline looms, the can of worms will be effortlessly kicked down the room another looming deadline or two.

In return for agreeing to raise the debt ceiling (and, by the way, that’s the wrong way of looking at it: more accurately, we’re lowering the debt abyss), John Boehner bragged that he’d got a deal for “a real, enforceable cut” of supposedly $7 billion from fiscal year 2012. After running the numbers themselves, the Congressional Budget Office said it only cut $1 billion from FY 2012.

Which of these numbers is accurate?

The correct answer is: Who cares? The government of the United States currently spends $188 million it doesn’t have every hour of every day. So, if it’s $1 billion in “real, enforceable cuts,” in the time it takes to roast a 20 lb. stuffed turkey for your Thanksgiving dinner, the government’s already borrowed back all those painstakingly negotiated savings. If it’s $7 billion in “real, enforceable cuts,” in the time it takes you to defrost the bird, the cuts have all been borrowed back.

Bonus question: How “real” and “enforceable” are all those real, enforceable cuts? By the time the relevant bill passed the Senate earlier this month, the 2012 austerity budget with its brutal, savage cuts to government services actually increased spending by $10 billion. More more more, how do you like it?

But don’t worry. Aside from spending the summer negotiating a deal that increases runaway federal spending, those stingy, cheeseparing Republicans also forced the Democrats to agree to create that big ol’ supercommittee that would save $1.2 trillion. Over the course of ten years.

Anywhere else on the planet that would be a significant chunk of change. But the government of the United States is planning to spend $44 trillion in the next decade. So $1.2 trillion is about 2.7 percent. Any businessman could cut 2.7 percent from his budget in his sleep. But not congressional supercommittees of supermen with superpowers thrashing it out across the table for three months. So there will be no 2.7 percent cut.



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