WASHINGTON -- Our nation's capital is filling with nouveau New Dealers and social engineers, men and women with a glint in the eye. All are anticipating the orgies. There is a stimulus bill of $787 billion, an appropriations bill of $410 billion, a housing bailout bill of $275 billion, and the Prophet Obama's colossal budget, promising $3.55 trillion of expenditures (including a $634 billion "down payment" on health care reform). My heart goes out to the American taxpayer, of course, but somewhat to my surprise, I reserve a special sadness for former President Bill Clinton. In his party, he is a dinosaur. Today, as the Obamaists swarm through Washington, the centrist from the 1990s must feel forlorn.
For years, it has been his boast that he balanced the federal budget and maintained vigorous economic growth. He expanded free trade and, working bipartisanly with Republicans, reformed welfare. People left the welfare rolls and took remunerative employment. Usually, federal spending hovers at about 20 percent of gross domestic product. In the Clinton administration, it dropped to 18.4 percent -- the lowest level since 1966. Bill said, "The era of big government is over," and he meant it.
Today his party has passed him by. Bill, can we now be friends? I apologize for all my past rudeness, even the jokes. It is a matter of public record that you have made friends with Dick Scaife. Allow me to be next. Let us convene a conference. We could explore market solutions to public problems, and together we could promulgate a manifesto on free trade. I shall bring some friends from The Heritage Foundation and the Hoover Institution -- Ph.D.s. Perhaps we can plot how to re-reform welfare after the Obama administration shanghais the poor back into the welfare trap.
Under the Prophet, federal expenditures will soar to 27.7 percent of GDP. That is the highest rate of expenditure since 1945. The deficit will hit $1.7 trillion this year and, after a brief decline, rise above $700 billion. His budget contemplates a recovery, but in 2010, spending still will be in the range of 24.1 percent of GDP. Moreover, he will raise taxes and cut the military back.