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VA Think Tank: No “Look Ma No Hands” Budget

May 9, 2011

RICHMOND, Va. - It seems each passing day brings a new plan for dealing with the federal budget deficit, but some experts are warning residents of Virginia to make sure political leaders are not abdicating their responsibilities by passing the buck. Such would be the case with the so-called "global spending cap," according to Michael Cassidy, president of the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis.

The "Corker-McCaskill" plan would limit total government spending to a fixed percentage of gross domestic product. Cassidy says indiscriminate budget-slashing plans like this one would let lawmakers off the hook by not forcing them to make hard decisions.

"Some have described this approach to federal budgeting as the 'look ma, no hands' approach."

Plans that call for global cuts would hit the poor, infirm and elderly hard in Virginia, Cassidy warns. He says while some politicians like the word "cap" as opposed to "cut," in the end they both amount to the same thing.

Cassidy points out that any solution to a more balanced budget needs to incorporate more than just cuts that could devastate Virginia's most vulnerable residents.

"A global spending cap just looks at the spending side and doesn't look at the revenue side, which is equally important."

Supporters say the caps are a fair way to spread the pain to bring the deficit under control. Opponents of these budget caps say the general public can be easily misled because they mention no specific programs.


Glen Gardner, Public News Service - VA