Republicans want to cut the federal budget. But, whenever they try to make the argument, they are accused of wanting to cut programs for the poor, or for the children, or for the poor children for that matter. They get demagogued, and they turn tail and run.
Here's a place they could start turning the tables on the Democrats. It's one thing to spend federal money on the poor. For my money, we overspend on programs like disability, unemployment compensation, food stamps, subsidized housing, college loans. We distort the market and distort the system of incentives that make people productive citizens. Be that as it may, that's a different argument. I propose to focus first, not on spending on the poor, but on spending on the upper middle-class, namely, federal government employees themselves. Here's a chart from the Cato Institute that I would be highlighting every time I talk about the federal budget:
It's one thing to claim that you are doing important work for the poor. We can applaud the work. But I don't think Americans are going to like very much the notion that federal employees claiming to be doing "good" are making twice as much as people in private industry whose labors are footing the bill, while at the same time having much more job security. To use a word the Left uses so often... that's "unfair."
I would propose caps on federal pay and benefits, and actual reductions at the upper end. Democrats want to talk about millionaires and "the rich"? How about Republicans talk about this: "By 2009, there were 383,000 federal civilian workers with salaries of more than $100,000, 66,000 with salaries of more than $150,000, and 22,000 with salaries of more than $170,000. Between late 2007 and mid-2009, the number of federal workers earning more than $150,000 more than doubled, even as the economy fell into a deep recession during that period."