Candy flies through the air. Flags flutter from lamp-posts, bunting festoons every porch. Veterans of America's various imperial wars wave from their cars. So do members of the Town Council as they toss handfuls of Tootsie Rolls and lollipops to the spectators. Cheerleaders twirling batons precede the marching band, whose trumpets and tubas compete with the Canadian geese honking overhead. The temperature's climbing towards 90 degrees.
During the filibuster that effectively killed the controversial nomination of University of California law professor Goodwin Liu to a federal judgeship, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) called for his nomination on the grounds of his ethnicity: "There is no Asian-American member on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals," he noted. "There should be, and Professor Liu ought to be that judge."
The latest Social Security Trustees Report tells us that the program will be insolvent by the year 2037. The combined unfunded liability of Social Security and Medicare has reached nearly $107 trillion in today's dollars. That is about seven times the size of the U.S. economy and 10 times the size of the national debt. Those entitlement programs, along with others, account for nearly 60 percent of federal spending. They are what Congress calls non-discretionary spending. About half of discretionary spending is for national defense. Each year, non-discretionary spending consumes a higher and higher percentage of the federal budget.
As the presidential campaign for 2012 gets under way, conservatives, libertarians, and others typically disposed to vote for Republican candidates would do themselves a good turn to bear a few things in mind as we enter the next election cycle.