By now much virtual ink has been devoted to the “cuts” that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates proposes in the defense budget and defense programs. These have been treated as a clear statement of intention that DOD will contribute to the overall effort at restraining federal spending, the deficit, and the growing national debt.
In reality, the Gates strategy does not make any contribution to restraining federal spending or reducing the deficit. And in trying to avoid cutting his budget, he is putting the Pentagon behind the curve in the growing effort to discipline the federal budget and on a collision course with other parts of federal spending and revenues.
I used my first column for The Fiscal Times to take on all those who insist that the only way to deal with the federal deficit is by cutting spending. Contrary to those who repeat the "it's a spending problem" mantra, spending definitely is not the only issue and spending cuts are not the only possible response.
In my Roll Call column this week, I take another shot at the Gallup poll on waste from about 10 days ago and on Steve Moore's characterization of that poll. Thanks. for listening. I feel much better now.
Waste Not, Want Not — but First Define Waste and Want
Sept. 29, 2009
Gallup released a poll two weeks ago that unwittingly but perfectly explains the ever-intractable politics of the federal budget. The poll, which was released Sept. 15, found that the average American believes that 50 cents of every tax dollar collected by the federal government is wasted.
Steve Moore wrote a column published by the Wall Street Journal yesterday that tried very hard to use the results of a recent Gallup poll to convince everyone a massive taxpayer revolt is close at hand. There are two problems: He's misreading the poll and he's doesn't understand its implications.
Bruce fowarded to me a remarkable poll from Gallup. He suggested that I, rather than he, was the right person to comment. I am happy to oblige one of my bloggers-in-crime.
The poll shows that, on average, Americans today believe that 50 cents of every federal tax dollar is wasted. Gallup makes a big deal of the fact that this is an increase from 46 cents per dollar in 2001.
There's one problem: the poll never defines "waste."