Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The Lizard Brain of a Conservative

The Lizard Brain Part of A Conservative
(first published in North State Journal 2/6/19)

Springtime brings new sessions of Congress and the NC state legislature. Budgets have to be cobbled together. Spending priorities get set for the year. Appropriations are made later to conform with budget instructions.

Liberals must go crazy trying to understand the brains of conservatives during these times. “How can they possibly not support expanding Medicaid, spending more on public education, affordable housing and environmental protection every single year?” they must fret about while wringing their hands.

Liberals think fiscal conservatives have lizard brains. Lizards don’t have the capacity for deep rational or emotional thought. They eat, sleep, try to avoid being eaten themselves, reproduce and slither in and out of rocks all day long.

Liberals think conservatives are cold-hearted, mean-spirited and simply callous to the needs of others.

When it comes to government budgets, true fiscal conservatives do think in simple terms, however it is not cruel.

It is balanced.
“Whatever is being spent in total today is enough to ask taxpayers to fund out of their pockets. If someone wants to expand a program or spend money on a new initiative, they are obligated to say what taxes they will raise or what other existing program they will cut to pay for it first.”
That is how PAYGO (Pay-As-You-Go) started in the Budget Enforcement Act passed by Congress in 1990. PAYGO was the most successful budgeting tool ever in the history of this country until President Bush 43 and the Republicans essentially neutered it in 2003.

We had the only 4 balanced budgets in our lifetime from 1998-2001 as a result of BEA. Had PAYGO remained fully in force, we would not be in the fiscal maelstrom we are in today.

At the state level, lizard-brained conservatives don’t mind spending the entire annual state budget on one program be it Medicaid, public education, public safety or transportation, the Four Horsemen of every state budget, as long as all other programs are cut and eliminated and no new higher taxes are imposed on state taxpayers.

Whatever the total amount of government spending is today, lizard brains want to hold the line on more government spending. They prefer to eliminate programs that don’t work and spend that money on another priority.

Better yet, return those savings to the taxpayer in the form of tax cuts or refunds. Lizard brains believe people spend their own money more wisely than government bureaucrats and elected officials can anyway.

In the view of lizard-brain conservatives, all liberals want to do is to keep every existing government program fully funded and then add on more new government spending for whatever they want to spend your money on next.

At the federal level, the only program liberals ever want to cut is in defense spending. Defense and construction of roads are two federal programs explicitly mentioned in the Constitution so lizard brains at least have the constitutional mandate argument to rely on in both cases.

If you are an elected official, here’s how to engineer universal goodwill among all voters but especially the Unaffiliated voters whom now represent 34% of all voters in North Carolina:

  • Set aside one entire year for legislative oversight and conduct a truly bipartisan effort to clear out every government program that has out-lived its usefulness or is not achieving its stated goals.

To my knowledge, over the past 40 years, there has been only 1 federal program that was voted out of existence. The Federal Helium Reserve. It began in 1925 to provide helium for a new-fangled thing called a dirigible. It was privatized in 1996 and presumed dead only to have Congress re-authorize it in 2013.

Even dead federal programs come back to life like Lazarus.

Liberals: If you want to expand Medicaid and continue to increase spending on public education, help lizard brain conservatives find the way to pay for them first. Not after the fact.

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