Some Liberals like to confront conservatives and ask them if they would be willing to part with particular favorite programs (always those chosen by the Liberal) as part of cutting government spending.
When the Conservative declines to agree to this (seeming) compromise, that is used as the Liberal's "gotcha" moment, that conservatives are not really interested in reducing deficits, they just want to spend the taxpayers' money on their priorities (usually these are centered on defense).
These arguments are false choices. Not even the most libertarian among us (note to Liberals, the libertarians run among "us," not you) are planning, or desire, anarchy. What we want, instead, is a federal government that is limited. Limited to those enumerated powers as spelled out in the Constitution. Would this require some significant drawback from 100+ years of judicial overreach and state usurpation of power? Probably, and would that really be a bad thing? Has the massive government expansion of the 20th Century really produced results that better the country? Could the same results have been achieved without a massive federal nanny state?
I expect the answer is yes.
When I am posed with this question, my first inclination is to ask whether the program being posited for elimination falls within the enumerated powers of the federal government. Since Libs like to target defense programs, this is usually a yes. They don't ask about the Department of Education or the Department of Energy, where we could make a Constitutional argument that it shouldn't be the federal government's responsibility in the first place, no, it's always DoD. That's because they don't want to get into this enumerated powers argument. It's a loser for them. The idea here is to suck you into the tit for tat, and ignore the pesky Constitutional questions of much of the modern Liberal Nanny State. So, your first approach has to be, let's agree that the program even has a Constitutional leg to stand on.
After that, we can defend or oppose the program on its merits. That's also conservative turf, because the Liberal never defends his programs on their merits. Conservatives, because we care about the taxpayers money, should ensure that all government spending serves some legitimate, Constitutionally-defendable need, and that it is done in the most efficient manner possible.
I think a good approach here is to remind the Liberal that defense of the nation was among the first ideas for the federal government in the framer's mind, so, we can have a merit-based argument over the efficacy of particular defense programs, but, when we are talking about cutting spending, 1)defense is Constitutionally required, and 2)it's small potatoes anyway in the budget discussion. If the liberal really wants to discuss the budget, if he's unwilling to tackle social security, Medicare, and Medicaid, he's unserious about the argument anyway, and this is a game he's playing. It's not one you should play, because like most Liberals, they only care about scoring cheap debating points, and proving their intellectual muscle, they don't care about the actual problems facing us.
But, you can turn this into a fun game and expose the liberal. So, instead of asking, "Mr. Liberal, what programs are you willing to cut/give up?" recognize that's not the turf we want to fight on.
I want Liberals to justify the constitutional basis for their programs first, just as we have. Where we disagree with them we need to be vocal and stick to the "not a federal government responsibility" argument. The states need to provide many of the services that they have ceded (either out of laziness, or via the Courts) to the federal government, where tough decisions are easier to make, and where legislators can be more easily held accountable to their decisions.
Don't cede this ground. Much of the nanny state is built on shaky extra-Constitutional underpinnings., and they know it. The central conceit in the Liberal/Progressive psyche is their own personal moral and intellectual superiority. Let's face it, they went to better schools, they are more focused on education, they just plain know better. And their system of governing must, therefore, embody the fact that they are just plain smarter than you.
They're smarter than you.
That's all it boils down to.
Despite how many times it has been tried throughout history, it all boils down to that. That's why intellectual Liberals like Tom Friedman find the Chinese version of Communism so wonderful. Why, golly, they have so much power invested in a group of men who are just so damn smart.
So much smarter than you.
That's why these Progressives sit on the sidelines with their jaws wired shut as Barack Obama picks out who to kill next in his own personal War of Kinetic Exercises From Above (or whatever), but squealed like greased pigs on the way to the slaughterhouse when Bush did something similar. Bush was an idiot, Barack Obama? Why he's one of us, the intelligentsia. If he's picking who gets the drone axe, by golly, it must be right. He's smarter than you (and way smarter than Bush). Plus, he got Osama (take that, Bush!).
That's why they defend to the death the outright traitorous activity by members of the Obama administration in leaking classified information to the Washington Post and NY Times about computer viruses, and the drone killings, and don't want to see a special prosecutor appointed to investigate these leakers. That's why Obama can say with a straight face that he's offended, not at the leaks, but at the suggestion that the leaks came from "my White House." Leaks, ok. Suggesting we're doing them, not so much. He knows his Leftists friends will continue to defend, and use them in the manner intended, the glorification of Obama. Yes, these people find this behavior acceptable, but Scooter Libby went to jail for a leak by Richard Armitage.
To understand this reasoning, they must be smarter than you.
My point is, when you engage these people in an argument, recognize that they aren't really interested in a government, "of the people, by the people, for the people."
They're interested in a government run by themselves. Because, in their mind, the people, acting collectively, in their personal self interests, and being a compassionate people, are incapable of choosing the right path either on their own, or as a collective.
They're smarter than you.