Small Government Conservatives

SMALL GOVERNMENT CONSERVATIVES….Atrios is right. Andrew Sullivan is just being incoherent here in his defense of his own conservatism:

So let’s recap: I’m in favor of Bush’s tax cuts, but want spending cuts to match them; I favor balanced budgets; I favored and favor the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns, but want to execute them competently, with enough troops….I want more money for defense….

Bush’s tax cuts haven’t touched Social Security or Medicare taxes (and both programs run surpluses anyway). They’ve been solely cuts in personal and corporate income taxes, dividend taxes, and capital gains taxes. These are the taxes that fund discretionary spending.

Discretionary spending in 2005 was roughly $1 trillion. About half of that was for defense and national security, which Sullivan doesn’t want to cut. That leaves $500 billion, which funds the entire rest of the federal government.

The federal deficit for 2005 was over $400 billion.

So: if you support the tax cuts, and you don’t want to cut defense spending, and you want a balanced budget, you need to slice about $400 billion out of the $500 billion that’s left.

These are round numbers, but you get the idea. Cutting a few agricultural subsidies and eliminating Amtrak isn’t going to do the trick. Even taking an axe to social welfare programs wouldn’t do it. You’d need to eliminate about 80% of the federal government outside the Defense Department. So if Sullivan wants to be taken seriously, he needs to tell us just which 80% he wants to get rid of. The FBI? Prisons? EPA? The federal courts? Housing assistance? Highways? The National Institutes of Health?

What’s it going to be?