The Washington Post reports that the United States’s spend, spend, spend message is going to be a hard sell for other nations at the G8 summit:


 “There is a fundamental issue going into the meeting over the size and shape of the global recovery,” said Edwin M. Truman, a senior fellow at the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics and a former assistant treasury secretary for international affairs. “And it’s fair to say that the administration’s position is not the same as those of many other countries.”


 The administration’s position on endless spending is also not the same as that of many hapless U.S. taxpayers who are nevertheless forced to pick up the tab. Even more infuriating, the exorbitant spending, according to an article in Fortune magazine, is the opposite of what we need to do to get the economy going. The distinguished monetarist Allan Meltzer tells the magazine that our policy is based on a misreading of John Maynard Keynes, the Bloomsbury economist who introduced living beyond your means as a philosophy of governing.


Meltzer, who advised both John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, was on hand when Margaret Thatcher faced an economic crisis in the mid-1980s. The magazine reports:


A group of 346 noted economists had just written a scathing open letter to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, predicting that her tough fiscal policies would “deepen the depression, erode the industrial base, and threaten social stability.” Thatcher wanted to make absolutely certain her unpopular attack on huge deficits and rampant spending, in the face of high unemployment and a


So Thatcher summoned Meltzer, along with a group of trusted advisors, to explain why the experts were wrong. Even leaders of her own party advised Thatcher to make what they called a ‘U-Turn,’ and enact a big spending program to pull Britain out of recession. “Our job was to explain why lower deficits and spending discipline were the key to recovery,” recalls Meltzer.


Thatcher was regally unamused by arcane jargon. “Being right on the economics wasn’t enough,” intones Meltzer. “She made it clear that our job was to explain it so she could understand it. If we didn’t, she made it clear we were wasting her time. She’d say, ‘You’re not telling me what I need to know.'”


Thatcher stuck with draconian policies, invoking the battle chant “The Lady’s Not for Turning.” She launched Britain on years of balanced budgets, modest spending increases, falling joblessness, and extraordinary economic growth.


 For Meltzer, the courageous, damn-the-sages stance that Thatcher took three decades ago should guide President Obama today. “If Obama announced a strategy to deal with the long-term debt and stopped doing things to increase the uncertainty that businesses face, it would do a great deal to stimulate the economy,” declares the 82-year old Meltzer.


Meltzer is right, and most of the “experts” — from Paul Krugman to Ben Bernanke — are wrong. The best stimulus is a solid, credible plan to radically reduce government spending, starting right now.


To be sure, President Obama frequently advocates shrinking deficits in future years. The problem is that he wants to keep spending heavily today, in what’s supposedly a classic Keynesian formula for charging a weak recovery and lowering unemployment.


Much of the underpinning of the administration’s spend, spend, spent mentality is justified by an interpretation of John Maynard Keynes. The Fortune article proposes that the current understanding of Keynes is wrong, wrong, wrong:


But that formula isn’t what Keynes recommended. “Keynes championed temporary deficits to stimulate consumption during recessions,” says Steve Hanke, an economist at Johns Hopkins. “But he also insisted that deficits disappear during recoveries, so that budgets would be balanced or in surplus during most of the business cycle.”


Today, the administration is pursuing a totally different policy. It’s sharply raising expenditures when the U.S. already faces gigantic, chronic deficits that barely shrink even in a recovery, and burgeoning debt. “Keynes specifically warned against structural deficits when both U.S. and British economists were pushing for them at the end of World War II,” says Meltzer. “He never said that more spending on top of chronic deficits was a stimulus. Just the opposite, in fact.”


The Obama administration is calling for an extra $316 billion in “stimulus” spending in addition to the $862 billion already appropriated. The rub is that the all of the “stimulus” money is being borrowed, and that’s adding to already mushrooming debt. Right now, the CBO forecasts deficits of $1.25 trillion or an immense 5.6% of GDP in 2020 — and that’s following a strong recovery. That year, the federal debt will reach 90% of national income, putting the U.S. in the fragile position of a Greece or Portugal. Interest payments will absorb one dollar in every six of federal spending.


Margaret Thatcher was not for turning. I have a sinking feeling that our administration is not for turning either. Its spending may well prove unprecedented in the history not just of the United States but of the world.