The Corner

The Spending Pledge

I’ve long wondered whether it is possible to create an anti-spending pledge as effective as the famous anti-tax pledge. Jonathan Bydlak writes about an effort to do that on the home page today. I’m with him in spirit, but I don’t think the pledge would work very well. It generally requires an affirmative vote of Congress for taxes to rise, making accountability easy. (The fact that this condition doesn’t apply right now, of course, is causing anti-taxers all sorts of problems.) Yet spending rises automatically all the time with no affirmative vote, because of entitlements–and the anti-spending pledge does not account for this fact.

Also, refusing to raise taxes generally does not keep the government from sending out Social Security checks, maintaining the military, and doing other things the vast majority of people want it to do. Holding the line on appropriations bills, as the pledge demands, can lead to partial government shutdowns; so can refusing to raise the debt limit, as the pledge also demands. 

So while I wish it could be done, I don’t think it’s possible to pledge our way to lower spending.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

Most Popular

White House

The Mueller Report Should Shock Our Conscience

I've finished reading the entire Mueller report, and I must confess that even as a longtime, quite open critic of Donald Trump, I was surprised at the sheer scope, scale, and brazenness of the lies, falsehoods, and misdirections detailed by the Special Counsel's Office. We've become accustomed to Trump making up ... Read More
Education

An Idea for Student Loans: Get Rid of Them

Here is a three-part plan for something practical the federal government could do to relieve college-loan debt. Step 1: The federal government should stop making college loans itself and cease guaranteeing any such loans. Step 2: It should prohibit educational lending by federally regulated financial institutions ... Read More
White House

The Problem with the Mueller Report

So much for collusion. The media conversation has now officially moved on from the obsession of the last two years to obstruction of justice. That’s because the first volume of the voluminous Mueller report, the half devoted to what was supposed to be the underlying crime of a Trump conspiracy with Russia, ... Read More
Sports

Screw York Yankees

You are dead to me. You are a collection of Fredos. The cock has crowed, you pathetic sniveling jerks. The team I have rooted for since 1965, when I first visited the House that Ruth Built, where I hawked peanuts and ice cream a lifetime ago, watched countless games (Guidry striking out 18!), has gotten so ... Read More