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None of these considerations are nullified by our current fiscal debacle. On the contrary, one may see in it the very template Higgs describes in his book. Politicians spend and borrow because it is in their political interest to so, and when the inevitable crisis comes, they propose to seize more resources from the industrious rather than shrink government back to a less threatening size.
Contrary to what they say, the fiscal mess did not result from a failure to tax. Our problem is the politicians' irresistible temptation to spend—other people's money. If you don't believe it, have a look at this OMB chart posted recently by Ed Krayewski at Reason. Revenues went up starting in 2004 (after the tax rate cuts) until the Great Recession set in. Spending climbed in good times and bad.
As Ron Hart points out, Bill Clinton's balanced budget contained spending of $1.7 trillion. "Adjusted for inflation, our federal government would be spending $2.3 trillion today and collecting $2.5 trillion in 'revenues,' resulting in a $200 billion surplus. But instead of increasing government spending in line with normal inflation, under Bush and Obama we are spending $3.8 trillion today. Democrats, who believe we have a 'revenue' problem instead of a 'spending' problem, must also think they have a bartender problem, not a drinking problem."
Republicans are hardly better. They talk about a spending problem, but they rarely act as though they believe it. If they did, they wouldn't be fretting over the automatic (and meager) cuts in the Pentagon's outrageously bloated budget under sequestration. They'd be calling for more, considering that the U.S. government now spends more on the military than it did during the Cold War.
There's nothing romantic about taxation, and the patriot appeal is chicanery. Those who say otherwise are, wittingly or unwittingly, mere stalking horses for politicians looking to do more mischief.
This article originally appeared at The Project to Restore America.