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Mitchell’s Golden Rule « Rogue Politics

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The United Kingdom and the Benefits of Spending Restraint

When I debate one of my leftist friends about deficits, it’s often a strange experience because none of us actually care that much about red ink. I’m motivated instead by a desire to shrink the burden of government spending, so I argue for spending restraint rather than tax hikes that would “feed the beast.” And […]

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New CBO Numbers and the Simple Formula for Good Fiscal Policy, Part II

Based on new 10-year fiscal estimates from the Congressional Budget Office, I wrote yesterday that balancing the budget actually is very simple with a modest bit of spending restraint. If lawmakers simply limit annual spending increases to 1 percent annually, the budget is balanced by 2022. If spending is allowed to grow by 2 percent […]

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New CBO Numbers and the Simple Formula for Good Fiscal Policy, Part I

The Congressional Budget Office, as part of The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2017 to 2027, has just released fiscal projections for the next 10 years. This happens twice every year. As part of this biannual exercise, I regularly (most recently here and here) dig through the data and highlight the most relevant numbers. Let’s repeat […]

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Does “Wagner’s Law” Mean Libertarians Should Acquiesce to Big Government?

There’s a lot of speculation in Washington about what a Trump Administration will do on government spending. Based on his rhetoric it’s hard to know whether he’ll be a big-spending populist or a hard-nosed businessman. But what if that fight is pointless? Back in October, Will Wilkinson of the Niskanen Center wrote a very interesting […]

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A Fiscal Lesson from Western Australia’s Spending Binge

I’m generally a fan of Australia. I wrote my dissertation on the country’s private Social Security system, and I’m always telling policy makers we should  copy their approach. The Aussies also abolished death taxes, which was a very admirable choice. I even wrote that Australia is the place to go if politicians wreck the American […]

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Proposed Spending Cap in Brazil Could Be a Key for Economic Recovery and Renaissance

One of the most remarkable developments in the world of fiscal policy is that even left-leaning international bureaucracies are beginning to embrace spending caps as the only effective and successful rule for fiscal policy. The International Monetary Fund is infamous because senior officials relentlessly advocate for tax hikes, but the professional economists at the organization […]

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The Unsung Economic Success Story of New Zealand

When writing a few days ago about the newly updated numbers from Economic Freedom of the World, I mentioned in passing that New Zealand deserves praise “for big reforms in the right direction.” And when I say big reforms, this isn’t exaggeration or puffery. Back in 1975, New Zealand’s score from EFW was only 5.60. […]

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More Evidence that Balanced Budget Rules Don’t Work as Well as Spending Caps

If you asked a bunch of Republican politicians for their favorite fiscal policy goals, a balanced budget amendment almost certainly would be high on their list. This is very unfortunate. Not because a balanced budget amendment is bad, per se, but mostly because it is irrelevant. There’s very little evidence that it produces good policy. […]

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Lesson from Cyprus: Spending Restraint Is the Pro-Growth Way to Solve a Fiscal Crisis

Much of my work on fiscal policy is focused on educating audiences about the long-run benefits of small government and modest taxation. But what about the short-run issue of how to deal with a fiscal crisis? I have periodically weighed in on this topic, citing research from places like the European Central Bank and International […]

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Democracy, Societal Collapse, Public Choice, Goldfish, and Tax Competition

There’s a very powerful statement, variously attributed to Alexis de Toqueville, Benjamin Franklin, or Alexander Tytler, that basically warns that democracy is doomed when people figure out they can vote themselves money. There’s no evidence that any of them actually spoke or wrote those words, though I guess it doesn’t matter that the quote didn’t […]

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No Sympathy for Spendthrift Politicians in Fairfax County

As I’ve repeatedly explained, governments generally get in fiscal trouble because politicians can’t resist spending lots of money when the economy is buoyant and therefore generating lots of tax revenue. And this is why I’m a huge fan of spending caps. If outlays can’t grow faster than, say, 3 percent annually, that make it difficult […]

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More Evidence (from the Establishment!) for Spending Caps

The fact that there’s widespread support for spending caps from groups that support limited government is hardly a surprise. After all, we have lots of real world evidence that limits on the growth of government spending – if sustained for multi-year periods – can quickly shrink the burden of government and reduce red ink. So […]

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A Growing Consensus for Spending Caps and the MAP Act

Republicans are probably going to surrender on spending caps, thus allowing Obama to reverse his biggest-ever defeat. Moreover, GOPers almost surely will get nothing in exchange for raising the debt limit, thus squandering an opportunity to limit profligacy in Washington. So I should be feeling very glum. And, truth be told, I am routinely frustrated […]

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A Growing Consensus for Spending Caps and the MAP Act

Republicans are probably going to surrender on spending caps, thus allowing Obama to reverse his biggest-ever defeat. Moreover, GOPers almost surely will get nothing in exchange for raising the debt limit, thus squandering an opportunity to limit profligacy in Washington. So I should be feeling very glum. And, truth be told, I am routinely frustrated […]

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Alaska’s Oil-Fueled Spending Binge Violates Fiscal Policy’s Golden Rule, Leads to Budget Mess

If you look at oil-rich jurisdictions around the world, it’s easy to see why experts sometimes write about the “resource curse.” Simply stated, governments don’t have much incentive to be responsible when they can use oil as a seemingly endless source of tax revenue. From the perspective of voters, this seems like a good deal. […]

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A Very Simple Plan to Balance the Budget by 2021

Earlier this month, Americans for Prosperity held a “Road to Reform” event in Las Vegas. I got to be the warm-up speaker and made two simple points. First, we made a lot of fiscal progress between 2009 and 2014 because various battles over debt limits, shutdowns, and sequestration actually did result in real spending discipline. […]

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Budget Myths and Facts for the 2016 Campaign

I have a very mixed view of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, which is an organization representing self-styled deficit hawks in Washington. They do careful work and I always feel confident about citing their numbers. Yet I frequently get frustrated because they seem to think that tax increases have to be part of […]

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Quizzes to Determine Political Philosophy and Political Candidates

As far as I’m concerned, a key gateway test of whether someone might be a libertarian is whether they get upset when ordinary people are mistreated or brutalized by government. Such as the case of an elderly couple who had their hotel stolen by government. Such as the case of the family grocer who had his bank account […]

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New Fiscal Report from European Commission Punctures Myth of “Savage” Austerity

The European Commission’s data-gathering bureaucracy, Eurostat, has just published a new report on government finances for the region. And with Greece’s ongoing fiscal turmoil getting headlines, this Eurostat publication is worthwhile because it debunks the notion, peddled by folks like Paul Krugman, that Europe has been harmed by “savage” and “harsh” spending cuts. Here’s some […]

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Puerto Rico: Another Harsh Lesson about the Consequences of Violating Fiscal Policy’s Golden Rule

When I make speeches about fiscal policy, I oftentimes share a table showing the many nations that have made big progress by enforcing spending restraint over multi-year periods. I then ask audiences a rhetorical question about a possible list of nations that have prospered by going in the opposite direction. Are there any success stories […]

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