Matthew Yglesias, who very kindly redirected the two users we have in common to this site, points out that Porkbusters will not solve our budget problems:
This kind of thing is why people are always reaching for the name “Ramesh Ponnuru” when asked to name conservative pundits worth reading. As Scott Lemieux says “this is the central purpose of the Porkbusters campaign: to make difficult choices magically disappear, especially where the Iraq War is concerned.” As Ponnuru points out, the world simply doesn’t work like that. Conservatives either want to cut some major programs with substantial constituencies, or else they don’t really want to cut spending — pork is neither here nor there in big picture budgetary terms.
Too true, I’m afraid; the really big ticket budget items are entitlements, defense, and interest on the national debt . . . which is why we need Social Security Reform Now! Oh, yes, my little chickadees, I’ll be here all week. Don’t forget to tip your waiters.
But seriously, while this is true on some level, isn’t porkbusters still a good idea? There are other reasons to want to cut pork, besides being worried about the budget deficit. Pork may well have a big dragging effect on the economy by the distortions it introduces. And more than that, it’s morally distasteful that senators and congressmen spend so much time–time we pay them for–trying to grab fistfuls of cash out of the public trough before the other pigs can get at it. The people pushing porkbusters may not succeed in paying for the Iraq war, but surely they’re still doing God’s work?