by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute hasn’t heard as much as he would like from Republican presidential candidates about shrinking the size of the federal government. He shares his concerns with National Review Online readers.
For anyone hoping that the next president will get serious about reducing the size and cost of government, the early days of the campaign have been disappointing, to say the least. The Democrats, of course, have been campaigning as if Greece were a model rather than a warning. But what else can one expect from a party that has moved to the left of Barack Obama? The real disappointment has come from Republicans who seem intent on returning to the big-spending ways of the George W. Bush administration.
Start with the candidate of the moment, Donald Trump. Trump has made it clear that government spending in his administration would be, as The Donald would say, “yuuuge!” Trump’s answer to just about any problem facing the country is for the federal government to spend more money, which would be just fine because he would be the one spending it, and he knows how to do it right. For example, in the wake of the McCain “war hero” dustup, Trump penned an op-ed for USA Today promising to fix the problems with the VA hospitals. His solution: “I will build the finest and most modern veterans’ hospitals in the world.” Where would the money come from to build more hospitals? Trump doesn’t say.
Trump opposes any cuts to Social Security and Medicare — and Medicaid, for that matter. In April, at the New Hampshire Republican Leadership Summit, Trump criticized his fellow Republicans for proposing reforms of the entitlement programs that are bankrupting the country: “Every Republican wants to do a big number on Social Security, they want to do it on Medicare, they want to do it on Medicaid. And we can’t do that.” Medicare and Social Security alone face more than $69.1 trillion in unfunded liabilities, but Trump insists that the programs can be saved without cuts. “All these other people want to cut the hell out of it,” Trump said of Social Security. “I’m not going to cut it at all. I’m going to bring money in, and we’re going to save it.”