In 2007, the budget was 19.6 percent of the GDP. In 2009, it went up to 25 percent of GDP. That’s where the Democrats would like it to stay.
What happened? The financial crisis, of course. But as many of us suggested at the time, one of the Democrats’ real motives behind the stimulus was to inflate the “baseline” budget so that huge increases would never be reversed thanks to the D.C. logic that a cut in growth is a cut.
Now, Democrats greet any attempt to restore the size of government to its pre-crisis size — when we were still living way above our means — as if America would be plunged into the Stone Age.
Look at it this way. Those heartless Republican bastards would cut 2011 non-defense discretionary spending from 3.6 percent to 3.2 percent of GDP. Under Bill Clinton, such spending averaged 3.1 percent of GDP.
We owe $14 trillion we don’t have. Our total liabilities — i.e., Social Security and other entitlements — dwarf that. Obviously, we can’t just cut discretionary spending alone. But if it’s this hard to ask rough-rider poets to cowboy up, how are we going to deal with what everyone agrees is the much harder stuff?
— Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. © 2011 Tribune Media Services, Inc.
Editor’s Note: This article has been amended since its original posting.