I point out in this interview that the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA) was the only big victory for taxpayers this century. It imposed spending caps on discretionary spending and led to a sequester in early 2013, which was Barack Obama’s biggest defeat.
The bad news is that the BCA is merely legislation. That means politicians can conspire to bust the spending caps – which is what they did at the end of 2013, as well as in 2015, 2018, and again this year.
This most recent deal may be the worst of the worst. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) shows that it brings discretionary spending almost up to the level we reached during Obama’s pork-filled stimulus.
By the way, the chart also shows that Bush was a big spender and that we actually had a bit of spending restraint after the Tea Party-themed 2010 mid-term elections.
But let’s focus on today.
Here’s one more chart from CRFB. It shows that Trump is doing a good job of impersonating Obama with huge, across-the-board spending increases.
These charts show why I’m so depressed. And let’s not forget that they are only measures of discretionary spending. The outlook for entitlement spending is even worse!
In other words, we’re on the path to fiscal crisis. Is there a solution?
Yes, we could adopt constitutional restraints on the growth of government. I mentioned Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights in the interview, as well as the “debt brake” in Switzerland.
But there’s zero chance that today’s crop of politicians will enact this kind of sensible reform. We’ll probably have to wait until a crisis occurs – at which point it may be too late.
Daniel J. Mitchell is a top expert on tax reform and supply-side tax policy and is Chairman of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity. Mitchell is a strong advocate of a flat tax and international tax competition.