Safe On Base ("non-discretionary spending")

When kids play tag, they sometimes conveniently declare that a nearby object - such as a tree stump or railing - is a base where you can't tag them. Then before you can reach them, they lunge for it and declare themselves to be "safe on base".

Big Government advocates play the same game by calling a large number of government programs "nondiscretionary" - then using it as an excuse to declare that their budgets must be funded. That these programs may never be cut.

They often use the excuse that a particular function of government is required by the constitution - even when it's not.

Or they claim certain spending is contractually obligated, especially when it involves government employee salaries and benefits. They pretend legislators do not have the authority to abrogate or renegotiate those contracts - when they do.

But as they pretend their hands are tied, these same politicians continue to enter into new, lucrative contracts that obligate the government to spend more. Or they refuse to repeal laws such as "prevailing wages" that make government employee and subcontractor costs much higher than they should be.

In reality, almost all government spending is and should be discretionary. Governments should serve at the pleasure of the people, not at the pleasure of government sub-contractors, welfare recipients, or government employees.

Example 1

Big Government advocates often label Social Security as "non-discretionary". Yet courts have ruled that the federal government has no obligation to pay Social Security annunities. Congress could legally repeal the entire program. They could even do so while "taking care of" the people who are now dependent on Social Security by liquidating government assets.