Without anyone much noticing, our national government is on the verge of a permanent expansion that would endure long after the present economic crisis has (presumably) passed and that would exceed anything ever experienced in peacetime. This expansion may not be good for us, but we are not contemplating the adverse consequences or how we might minimize them. […]
For the past half-century, federal spending has averaged about 20 percent of GDP, federal taxes about 18 percent of GDP and the budget deficit 2 percent of GDP. The CBO's projection for 2020—which assumes the economy has returned to "full employment"—puts spending at 26 percent of GDP, taxes at a bit less than 19 percent of GDP and a deficit above 7 percent of GDP. Future spending and deficit figures continue to grow.
What this means is that balancing the budget in 2020 would require a tax increase of almost 50 percent from the last half-century's average.