Robert Samuelson provides a sobering analysis of our budget picture:
For the past half-century, federal spending has averaged about 20 percent of GDP, federal taxes about 18 percent of GDP, and the budget deficit 2 percent of GDP. The CBO’s projection for 2020 — which assumes the economy has returned to “full employment” — puts spending at 26 percent of GDP, taxes at a bit less than 19 percent of GDP, and a deficit above 7 percent of GDP. Future spending and deficit figures continue to grow.
He appropriately blames both Democrats and Republicans for failing to take the issue seriously:
Everyone favors benefits and opposes burdens (taxes). Republicans want to cut taxes without cutting spending. Democrats want to increase spending without increasing taxes, except on the rich. The differences between the parties are shades of gray. Hardly anyone asks the hard questions of who doesn’t need benefits, which programs are expendable and what taxes might cover remaining deficits.
Will anyone listen?