Don Boudreaux’s latest observations on “spending addiction” remind me of a line from Phil Gramm that I annually present to my IO class:

[I]n the darkest hour of the health care debate, when it looked like Bill Clinton was about to convince America that it made sense to tear down the greatest health care system the world had ever known to rebuild it in the image of the post office — (laughter) — when pollsters were saying it was political suicide to take on the Clinton health care bill head-on, when 20 Republican senators had signed on to a big-government compromise that raised taxes, I stood up and said, “The Clinton health care bill is going to pass over my cold, dead political body.” (Cheers/applause.)

Unlike Gramm’s audience, this doesn’t make me want to cheer or applaud. Rather it makes me want to interrupt:

Look, if we can all agree that a government mail monopoly is folly, why isn’t postal privatization at the top of our agenda? Why are we debating health care in the first place, if we can agree that we don’t want anything to function like the post office already does?

Similarly, I recall that during his ’92 campaign, Clinton often said things like, “There are many government programs that don’t work. But some do, like…” And I always wanted to interrupt:

Hold your horses, Bill. Can you provide a list of the programs that don’t work, so we can abolish them? Then, and only then, should we sit back and listen to your list of programs worth expanding.