The growth of government in America has not been gradual. Rather, government spending has remained a consistent fraction of our economy except for periodic dramatic bursts to new, and too often permanent, levels. The Civil War, World War I, and World War II all increased government spending and control over the American economy to new — and permanent — highs.
Franklin Roosevelt refused to let a good crisis go to waste and used the Hoover recession to enact the New Deal. His big-government solutions were supposed to lead to economic recovery, but instead lengthened the recession into a 10-year Great Depression — longer if you measure up to when civilian employment recovered and even longer if you measure up to when the stock market recovered: the Dow Jones Industrial Average peaked at 381 on September 3, 1929, and didn’t hit that mark again until November 24, 1954.
Lyndon Johnson used his supermajorities in Congress to pass Medicaid and Medicare and to create the new cabinet post of Housing and Urban Development.
Still, federal spending as a percentage of the economy averaged 20 percent of GDP from 1970 through 2007. The growth of social welfare spending was masked by the decline of defense spending from 10 percent of GDP under Eisenhower to 4 percent today.
Obama, Reid, and Pelosi jumped spending from 20 percent of GDP to 24.7 percent in 2009 through the massive TARP bailouts, the $878 billion “stimulus” package, and a doubling of domestic discretionary spending that will add a trillion to the debt over the next decade.
At this writing, it appears that Obama & Co. will have failed to pass cap and trade legislation, which would have added $800 billion in new taxes by 2020 — taxing existing real energy to subsidize non-economic or nonexistent energy sources. This tax increase on the American people was brought forward by Al Gore in 1993 and again by Gore in 2009, but with the damaging revelations of “Climategate,” Gore, like Sisyphus, finds himself forced to begin again.
Furthermore, the value-added tax — the silver bullet the left hopes will turn America into Europe without the charming cathedrals — and “Card Check,” which would have forced several million Americans into labor unions, remain beyond the reach of Tantalus.
However, there remains, within grasp, one more great leap forward on the road to serfdom: a federal bailout of the $3 trillion in unfunded state and local pension plans.
OVER THE YEARS politicians have “hidden” their payoffs to organized labor, which now commands union dues from 32 percent of state and 43 percent of local government workers by promising them rich pensions that would be paid out after said politicians were retired or dead. Well, that day has arrived and governors, state legislators, and mayors find themselves having promised $3 trillion more than they had planned to steal from taxpayers.
Luckily for them, a trial run is already under way to nationalize the unfunded liability of state and local government workers’ pensions. That is House Democrat Earl Pomeroy’s “Preserve Benefits and Jobs Act of 2009,” which would put federal taxpayers on the hook for the $165 billion that Moody’s estimates is the underfunding of multi-employer, union-controlled pensions. Pomeroy’s legislation sets no limit on federal taxpayers’ liability, and has 51 co-sponsors in the House and a more modest sister bill that might slip through the Senate.
The size of the federal government often confuses us into thinking that most government workers work for the federal government. In fact, much federal spending simply passes through Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and some 80-plus welfare spending programs to individuals.
There are “only” 2,854,000 federal civilian workers. That includes 711,800 postal workers. There are an additional 1.2 million Americans in the military.
State governments employ 4,850,000 workers, 2,021,200 of whom work in state colleges and universities.
Local governments pay 13,570,000 employees. Of those, 6,834,700 are in education.
Why would federal congressmen and senators add $3 trillion in federal debt to pay off the overpromises of state and local politicians?
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?