Op-Ed: Liz Truss’ downfall won’t end trickle-down economics
Updated at 11:55 a.m. on Wednesday, May 16, 2012
WASHINGTON (AP) — The most famous member of Congress won’t be sworn in for a fourth term next week. But the rest of the House will, and that means there’s still a strong reason for Democrats to stay in it.
President Barack Obama will hand over the gavel to Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California next month. But the next Congress will be different. Because it won’t look anything like the last one.
Over the course of the next two years, there ought to be as many opportunities to make the case for cutting Social Security and Medicare as there are to make the case for boosting military spending — and the number, scope and power of the federal government as a whole.
By next year, defense spending will have dropped, at least on paper, by roughly $52 billion from this year’s budget. And the House could even consider cutting the payroll tax — another key pillar of the deficit-cutting agenda championed by the president — by $1.3 trillion over the next decade.
And that doesn’t even mention the president’s health-care overhaul and his drive to reduce the number of lobbyists in Washington. That alone — and especially the combination of military spending and the payroll tax, on which both parties will be forced to negotiate as part of a deal to avoid a government shutdown next month — will reduce the size of the federal government significantly.
That doesn’t mean the size of the federal government will shrink by two-thirds or anything like that. But it could be an even more significant source of frustration for voters and more of a challenge for a party in the middle.
The good news is there are still plenty of opportunities for Democrats to talk about the problems the federal government faces and propose solutions as the government’s role in our economy unravels.
It’s unlikely, however, that the president will agree to any major cuts to military spending, which accounts for nearly 20 percent of the current budget. Nor will he go along with an across-the-board decrease in the payroll tax, which is what was in the budget he signed in February.