“We have to make a judgment about what -- how do we get growth with jobs, that is where the real revenue comes from. You don’t get it by…cutting your education and cutting back on investments in science and National Institutes of Health, food safety, you name it. So, it isn’t as much a spending problem as it is a priorities -- and that is what the budget is, setting priorities...So it is almost a false argument to say we have a spending problem, we have a budget deficit problem.”
On one side of the aisle, we have Republicans asserting that we have a spending problem. On the other, Democrats insist that we have a revenue problem -- and that the outlays side of the equation isn't really about excessive spending, per se. The facts unambiguously demonstrate that conservatives are correct, and that liberals are either projecting deliberate dishonesty or dangerous self-delusion. What's especially mystifying is some powerful liberals' propensity to repackage the nation's spending problem as some other malady. President Obama calls it a "healthcare problem." (Well, yes, Mr. President; and a driving component of that problem is that we spend too much on healthcare, and that problem is getting worse, not better -- despite your ritual promises during the Obamacare debate). In this interview, Pelosi labels the issue a "budget deficit problem." (Well, yes, madam leader; our budget deficits are projected to remain perilously and historically high because we spend much, much more than we take in every single year). Our healthcare expenditure and budget deficit crises are by definition spending problems, a basic fact that the Left cannot fully acknowledge without reinforcing a prime argument for scaling back the scope of our rapacious government. Conservatives have spelled out America's spending problem over and over and over and over again. It's math. Rather than recapitulate all of the facts and figures, let's focus on the nonpartisan CBO's recent projections for 2023 -- just ten years from now:
- In 2023, the federal revenues are projected to double over 2012 levels, and defense spending will hit an 80-year low as a percentage of the budget. At our current pace, that year's annual deficit will still approach ($978 billion), and likely surpass, $1 trillion.
- Between 2014 and 2023, average annual federal revenues will be higher than the historical average, yet the government will add nearly $10 trillion to the gross national debt over that span. Again, this new debt comes despite higher-than-average tax revenues (including Obama's tax hikes on the rich and sweeping Obamacare taxes) and all-time low military spending.
- By 2023, the interest on the national debt will be approximately $900 billion. Philip Klein puts this number in context: "By 2020, Congress could vote to eliminate all military spending and it wouldn't even be enough to cover interest payments on the national debt."
- According to government actuaries, Medicare insolvency will be one year away.
The biggest drivers of this spending are our entitlement program and the unfunded liabilities they entail. Over the last decade, Republicans have offered proposals to overhaul and reform these behemoths. Democrats have squealed like stuck pigs at every turn, angrily fighting each attempt to get our books in order on our own terms. Spending is the problem, and it's going to drown us. Unfortunately, the government's ruling political party is devoted to actively denying math, and a large portion of our populace has grown accustomed to the unsustainable status quo of European-sized government for American-sized taxes and freedom.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography