Tag Archives: government spending

Where’s the Austerity?

Here’s a letter I recently sent to The Economist:

SIR – you write that the “collective obsession with short-term austerity across the rich world is hurting” the prospects for global economic recovery; be afraid.

May the data allay your fears. From 2000 to 2010, the UK’s government spending boomed from 36.6 percent of GDP to 51.0 percent. France’s spending went from 51.6 percent to 56.2 percent. Even sober Germany grew its government from 45.1 percent of GDP to 46.7 percent.

When Bill Clinton left office, total U.S. government spending was 33.9 percent of GDP. It has blossomed to 42.3 percent under Presidents Bush and Obama.

If the rich world is indeed austerity-obsessed, it is no more than talk. That’s why this writer is afraid.

Fellow in Regulatory Studies
Competitive Enterprise Institute

*All data from OECD, downloadable at http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888932443396

My colleague Greg Conko pointed out that the letter might be more persuasive if it used data from 2008-2010, to isolate government growth since the Great Recession’s start.

It’s a good point, so I looked it up. And the song remains the same. France’s government grew from 52.9 to 56.2 percent; Germany’s grew from 43.8 to 46.7 percent; the UK’s grew from 47.4 to 51.0 percent; and the U.S. grew from 39.0 to 42.3 percent. All that in three short years.


What Shrinking Government?

I have a letter to the editor in today’s Washington Post:

Richard Cohen fretted that Tea Party activists have “shrunk the government.” He need not worry. Federal spending has gone from $2.9 trillion in 2008 to $3.8 trillion in 2011. Thirty percent spending growth in three years is hardly shrinkage. Even under the Boehner plan, federal spending will continue to increase every year for at least the next decade.

Meanwhile, federal agencies continue to finalize more than 3,500 new regulations per year. They repeal almost none, no matter how loud the Tea Party’s howls.

If anything, Tea Party activists have been devastatingly ineffective at shrinking government. Mr. Cohen can rest easy.

Ryan Young, Washington

The writer is a fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Disappointing, but Not Surprising

Headline from The Hill – “Pay-go gets passed, then it gets bypassed

Pay-go budgeting rules — that any spending increases must be offset with spending cuts or tax hikes elsewhere — have loopholes big enough to drive a truck through. One of them, the emergency exemption, is invoked as early as the second sentence of the article.

In theory, pay-go is supposed to be a way to slow the growth of government. But it’s all for show. Nobody really means it. Just invoke the emergency exemption. Then spend all you like. Appearances matter, especially in Washington. But they should not be confused with reality. And reality is that Congress is going to spend and spend some more, no matter what budgeting rules are in place.

Shame on them for trying to make people think otherwise.

Dog Bites Man

I am shocked — shocked — that $6 million of stimulus money went to a company accused of “overbilling, bribery of union officials and other alleged improprieties on several large New York projects.” Such lapses in oversight never happen with government spending projects!