Do Spending Cuts Really Hurt Poor?

There has been a lot of talk at both the state and national levels over cutting spending and whether those cuts harm poor people. I just don’t think it is so. One recent writer on the topic is Sen. Pete Campos. His piece which appeared in the Albuquerque Journal asserted that:

“Each dollar that we cut from education reduces a child’s chance of succeeding. Each dollar we cut from social services makes it more difficult for less-fortunate New Mexicans to get the mental and physical health care, food, or housing they need….”

The idea that spending cuts automatically harm the poor is not accurate for a few main reasons:

First and foremost, government is not usually the most efficient provider of said goods and services. For starters, government schools have spent more and more money per-pupil over the years with little to show for it in the way of results. Campos (and others) never question whether government is doing what it does — whether it is education or welfare — at optimal efficiency. In a more efficient system, services could be provided at a far lower cost, but in ways that improve living standards;

Secondly, much of what government does is used to benefit the wealthy, not the poor. The Rail Runner, Spaceport, and film subsidies are just a few of the big government programs enacted in recent years that disproportionately benefit the wealthy. Also, in terms of welfare, middle class government bureaucrats consume 25% or more of welfare spending.

This discussion is primarily focused on the state level, but Canada and New Zealand are just two countries that have dramatically reduced spending and restructured government. These reforms have led to economic growth and improvements for the poor (and all sectors of society). New Mexico (and the US Congress) need to follow their examples.