A lot of the problem is that politicians will naturally do what will make them popular over the next 4 to 8 years, when they will be seeking reelection. Sound, prudent economic management does not make you popular in the short run. It is paINFUL. Lower spending, less bribery of voters (which is what socialism means), better education, all produce benefits over the next 15, 25 or 50 years. That doesn't help politicians get elected. It's not that they don't know higher taxes are harmful. It's simply that higher taxes benefit them.