If You Do This One Weird Trick Every Year, You’ll Balance the Budget!

A United States Senator advocates a permanent nonsensical constraint on debt limits on the Wall Street Journal’s opinion page.

One, the gimmick doesn’t make sense, as I’ve already remarked. Two, if you tried to do it anyway, you’d fail. The present deal on spending cuts did not come easy, and we’re still not done wrangling over it. Trying to force ever-deeper cuts by this same political method year after year would exhaust everyone’s tolerance for tea-partydom by the second year.

Budget gimmicks for balancing the budget have been tried before. Gimmicks are things that offer you a novel and simple-sounding strategy that logically implies you’ll reach your goal. This might make Wall Street Journal readers feel good until it comes time to take the next novel, simple-sounding step, and it turns out to be even more difficult and less satisfactory than the old, complicated way of doing things.

Here’s an old idea that actually has worked before. Increase taxes, restrain spending, and let the economy grow. The first two parts don’t tend to make people happy. But it’s like diet and exercise–you’d better pay attention to both if you want to get in shape.

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