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Home improvement and the federal budget

Home improvement doesn’t always keep itself to your preferred schedule. If your sink drain backs up beyond your ability to repair it, you call a plumber and pay the bill, even if it’s not an expense you had intended to incur.

This is something that the deficit hawks in Congress should keep in mind. As the so-called “super committee” faces a looming deadline to identify more than $1 trillion in cuts or else trigger even more draconian automatic cuts, they should not lose sight of the value of flexibility.

Lawmakers are fond of trying to cut “discretionary” spending, as if they imagine that term to describe pizza parties and other such frivolities. But discretionary spending is how much of the work of government gets done, and it’s where the flexibility to meet unexpected costs often comes from.

Although it’s obvious that some politicians want to cut the government down to its most essential skeleton – trimming the fat and most of the lean tissue, to continue to anatomical analogy – that would be a bad idea. Trying to cover emerging situations when you have no funding allocated to doing so ends up costing a lot more.

Posted by Michael Hardy on Nov 16, 2011 at 12:18 PM


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