Saturday, May 21, 2011

On the similarity between weight loss and balancing the budget

I've been meaning to restart this blog for some time now, but I've been pretty busy between finding a new job, moving, etc. Why now? Sometime thought has to give way to action. This is just that time.

It occurred to me today that the Republican approach to balancing the budget is not unlike to my approach to losing weight. I've been refusing any exercise increases and insisting on accomplishing everything through eating cuts. Since I've started I've put on somewhere between 5 and 10 pounds. The Republicans would fare no better trying to close the budget deficit without tax increases. The fundamental problem is that taking one side of the equation off the table means you have to show amazing levels of restraint on the other.

Just as I can't find too many empty calories I'm willing to part with there just isn't that much spending that's easy to cut out there. The bulk of the federal budget goes to pay for Social Security, Medicare, and defense. Cutting the first two would antagonize the average GOP voter who tends to be older. The latter has been a sacred cow of the right for a long time. Even if savage cuts are made to the remaining spending, that still leaves no plan in place for dealing with medical costs, which are increasing faster than GDP. This means that in the long-run this strategy will require either refusing to cover much of senior's medical costs (like Paul Ryan would like to) or it means getting the government completely out of pretty much everything that isn't Medicare, Social Security, and defense.

The good news is that in thinking about all this I've resolved to do exercise more. I somehow doubt we'll even see a letup in the anti-tax increase rhetoric, much less actual action.