The graph below compares American spending against other OECD countries. It comes from an article in the left-leaning American Prospect that basically argues that our spending isn’t really a problem.
Politicians can fulminate all they want about the $2 million earmark or the silly sounding $150,000 research project. But the truth is that government spending is going to continue to rise, because neither Democrats nor Republicans really want government to get smaller – at least not badly enough to cut it in a meaningful way. It can rise at a slower or faster rate, depending on the decisions we make (the biggest source of future spending is Medicare and Medicaid, a problem the Affordable Care Act begins to tackle). But no matter who wins the election this year, or in 2012, or in any other year, it’s going to keep growing.
First, the comment that ObamaCare is going to “tackle” spending is absurd. Its tax and spending structure will move America way up on that graph. Next, the fact is that spending does matter for all kinds of reasons, particularly for a nation that doesn’t want to go down the path of sclerotic Europe.
No one knows if the Tea Party/Patriot movement is going to succeed in curtailing spending. I get the feeling that they just might. If the Republicans don’t curtail the rate of spending in some meaningful way, the loose network of activists will coalesce into a party.
For how long, and what level of success such a party has is an open question.
The answer need not be cutting spending below the previous year, but merely curtailing spending growth to a manageable number. Raise the retirement age, combine and means test Medicaid and Medicare, and outlaw public unionism at the state level.
Those 3 things alone will cure the spending problems. Get political power, and ram them through.