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

Most Popular


The Georgia Smear

Back in 2016, when Trump refused to say he’d necessarily accept the result if he lost, we were told that this was a terrible violation of democratic norms. Now, refusing to accept that you lost an election is the highest form of patriotism. Not only are the media and the Left not pressuring Stacey Abrams to ... Read More
PC Culture

The Lonely Mob

Just before the election, an Andrew Gillum intern named Shelby Shoup was arrested and charged with battery after assaulting some college Republicans on the campus of Florida State University. It was rather less exciting than that sounds: She went on a rant about “Nazis” and “fascism” — Gillum’s ... Read More

How Immigration Changes Britain

Almost nothing is discussed as badly in America or Europe as the subject of immigration. And one reason is that it remains almost impossible to have any sensible or rational public discussion of its consequences. Or rather it is eminently possible to have a discussion about the upsides (“diversity,” talent, ... Read More

Sorry, Brian Kemp Still Won

Here was the state of play as of yesterday per the Kemp campaign’s breakdown of publicly available information: As of Saturday, November 10, 2018 (12:00 p.m.) *Information below is public.  Total votes reported: 3,924,658 Kemp: 1,975,162 (50.33%) Abrams: 1,912,383 (48.73%) Metz: ... Read More