They’re Coming to Get You

A fiscal horror story so terrifying, it can only be told in 3D!

America is trapped in a horror movie that just won’t end. Long after the Great Recession is banished to sepia-toned memories, the country’s long-term budget crisis will still be haunting us, a fiscal Freddy Krueger ready to shred any semblance of sleep.

Take a look—if you dare!—at federal deficits (annual shortfalls between money in

and money out) and debt (the accumulated steaming pile of deficits). Since 1950 federal revenues have clustered around 18 percent of GDP. As John Merline of AOL News has helpfully documented, some years they’re up a bit, other years they’re down, but never by much. Meanwhile, outlays have gone up and up, regardless of ability to pay. Entitlements, especially Medicare and Social Security, play a starring role in bloat that would put the Blob to shame, as do ever-expanding bureaucracies, bailouts, and subsidies.

The Congressional Budget Office predicts that by 2020 federal spending will equal 25 percent of GDP. If past performance is any indication of future results, we know that revenues will be…around 18 percent of GDP. Anybody who has balanced a checkbook—scratch that, failed to balance a checkbook—knows that what follows is as predictable and grisly as a curvaceous college co-ed entering the last house on the lane: red ink that threatens to drown us all.

We may be out of money, but we aren’t out of ideas. To make the long-term financial crisis real, reason is pleased to present the following information in 3D, to hit you in the face with some of the goriest images you’ll ever see. Then, while you’re still reeling from the horror, check out our suggestions for ways to arm up with pitchforks and torches to storm the castle, turn Mr. Hyde back into Dr. Jekyll (who, hopefully, will still see patients under Obama-Care), and shrink government from Godzilla huge to Pokemon tiny. Those with weak stomachs should exit the theater now, for what is seen cannot be unseen.…

Visit for more 3D thrills!

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  • ||

    America is trapped in a horror movie Reason's 3D ad campaign that just won’t end.

    Carry 3D!

  • Joshua||

    I keep hearing the 18% figure, and I'm starting to wonder - what are other countries able to extract from their citizens?

  • robc||

    18% is only federal. Its higher if you include state and local.

  • ||

    If revenue is always going to be 18% of GDP, wouldn't cutting taxes necessarily cause the GDP to shrink?

  • robc||

    No, because the total revenue goes up when taxes are cut.

  • ||

    Ah, the libertarian version of transubstantiation. Still waiting for that link showing that the peak of the Laffer curve is below where we are now.

  • robc||

    I proved it in that one thread, no link necessary. Review my gedanken experiment.

  • robc||

    I proved that GDP growth is all that matters, eventually compound interest wins out over all other considerations.

  • robc||

    See revenue is the 00s, it was higher after the tax cut.

  • ||

    Revenue in the 1990s was higher after the tax increase in 1991. Nyaaah.

  • robc||

    You said "necessarily", I only need one instance to prove you wrong. You can cite all you want, it doesnt make an absolute true in case of 1 exception.

    Nyaaah right back, and mine sticks.

  • CrackertyAssCracker||

    maximum revenue extraction isn't the goal.

    minumum revenue extraction is.

  • robc||

    While maximum revenue extraction isnt the goal, I would prefer they extract more at a lower tax rate than less at a higher tax rate, because that means the economy is growing.

  • robc||

    And its only roughly 18% around the range of "reasonable" change. If we dramatically cut taxes, it would actually get out of the 16-20% range.

  • DLM||

    I tend to think cutting or raising taxes (within a reasonable range) is not that critical, but rather the establishment of a stable and predictable economic climate. This includes simplification of regulations, taxes, and other burdens government places on individuals for various reasons (justifiable or not).

  • robc||

    I think the key is that it isnt a flat tax -- when taxes are cut, the GDP growth pushes people into higher brackets, leading to a higher rate for those people.

    And, yes, what Im saying is that a marginal rate cut on the highest income bracket raises the income of poor and middle class people until they are in a higher bracket.

  • robc||

    Marginal tax rates are lower than 50 years ago. GDP is higher than 50 years ago. Revenue is still roughly 18% of GDP.

    Apparently cutting taxes doesnt necessarily cause the GDP to shrink.

  • Hobie Hanson||

    Stay tuned for Reason's special Christmas video, which will contain a bunch of boring and misleading charts with Santa Claus, candy canes, and missle toe behind them.

    And then the Easter special, which will feature boring and misleading charts in front of eggs, basket-carrying bunnies, and lilies.

    And then the Martin Luther King Day issue, with boring charts backed by "fleet-footed muggers" and "gay pedophiles".

    If only Reason could be as creative with their decorations as they are with their statistical warping!

  • robc||

    In Hobie's world, Easter occurs between Christmas and MLK Day.

  • Jason||

    Julian Calendar?

  • Halloween Hobie||

    Sanctimonious Halloween Hobie, the masturbating Catholic priest, with a hockey stick graph showing ObamaJobGrowth.

  • Jason||

    and missle toe behind them

    I don't know what a missle toe (missile toe?) is but mistletoe would be much more appropriate.

  • ||

    I had missle toe once. It's not as bad as bullet balls.

  • ||

    Shouldn't the first chart have included the 1930s? Isn't it disingenuous to leave out the period that most closely fits our own? If deficits spiked in the 30s, then we might assume a similar post dep/recession recovery. Of course, that would still be pretty terrifying.

  • Hobie Hanson||

    Critical thinkers are not welcome around here, Jim. I wouldn't question the haunted charts if I were of the wraithitarians might get pissy.

  • I get it...||

    People who disagree with your aren't critical thinkers. I see what you did there. *squinty eyes*

  • ||

    Here you go:

    http://www.usgovernmentspendin.....p;title=US Federal Deficit As Percent Of GDP&state=US&color=c&local=s

  • ||

    The Congressional Budget Office is warning that unless the federal government can control its appetite for deficit spending, the accumulated national debt could spark a fiscal crisis similar to those experienced by Greece and Ireland earlier this year.

    The non-partisan congressional accounting office – in a little-noticed July report – said the combination of a massive national debt and another fiscal downturn could spark the debt crisis.

  • ||

    Sell Alaska to China. First lure all the hippies there with free pot.

  • ||

    You have no right telling us at the government what to do with the money we rightfully own. Please mind your own business.

    The laws, ethics, & morality that applies to you DOES NOT APPLY TO US at the government.


    It is our money, not yours. Get over it.

  • Zeke Hyle||

    I think it's a little bit misleading to show the "% of revenue" charts, because that make it look like federal outlays decreased. They've increased, but the economy's growth for that time outstripped the growth in the size of government.

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  • fenuz||

    Non dovrebbe essere il primo grafico hanno incluso 1930? Non è malafede di lasciare fuori il periodo che si adatta più da vicino la nostra? Se il deficit di spillo negli anni '30, allora potremmo supporre un simile messaggio dep / recessione recupero. Naturalmente, questo sarebbe ancora abbastanza terrificante. desain rumah minimalis dan pusat grosir


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