Budget’s deadly impact greatly exaggerated 

‘To be a little melodramatic, the budget would kill people,” New York Times columnist Paul Krugman recently told CNN about House Budget Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity. “No question.”

With the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund set to run out of money Thursday, and with none of the federal government’s 12 appropriations bills signed into law so far, you can expect a lot more melodramatic quotes like this one in the coming weeks.

Liberal assertions that cuts in government spending will cause certain death are nothing new. Sixteen years ago this week, Krugman’s fellow columnist Bob Herbert warned New York Times readers that the welfare reform bill Republicans were then debating in the Senate “would hurt many people, would kill some and would help no one.”

Herbert could not have been much farther from the mark. Two years later, after President Bill Clinton had signed welfare reform into law, New York Times journalist Jason DeParle reported that “welfare rolls have fallen more than 40 percent in three states that have been among the most energetic in urging recipients to work: Oregon, Wisconsin and Indiana. And caseloads have declined by 25 percent or more in 16 other states.” DeParle’s article said nothing about people dying in the streets of Pittsburgh, Milwaukee or Indianapolis.

More recently, the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein accused Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., of being “willing to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands” because he threatened not to vote for Obamacare.

Klein relied on a flawed study as evidence for this hyperbolic claim. Krugman and Herbert had no evidence whatsoever. But the bottom line is that facts and evidence make little difference in such cases. Liberals are always going to claim that conservative resistance to their big-government plans will result in untold human misery and death. They will fight conservative insistence on spending cuts by claiming that mere fiscal probity in government would result in millions dying hungry in our streets. After crying wolf so often, they’ve lost their credibility. Their apocalyptic pronouncements are greeted with disbelief even by most liberals.

If the United States is ever to end its addiction to government dependency and rein in out-of-control spending, policymakers must shrug off the fear-mongering of the Krugmans, Herberts and Kleins of the world. Ryan tells CNN he is doing just that. In his words, “I gave fear up for Lent this year.” Other conservatives should follow his lead.

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