Government Spending

More Spending Denialism From the Best and Brightest


Protip: Hashtag #slatepitch! Co-sign! Also, Republicans are irrational, unserious, and epistemically closed. Yay team!

Earlier this week I noted President Barack Obama's reported quote (as relayed by House Speaker John Boehner) that "we don't have a spending problem," and pointed out that even if the words weren't verbatim the sentiment is widespread on the left, from the likes of Steve Benen, Jonathan Chait, Kevin Drum, and Robert Reich.

Since then, other commentators have come out of the woodwork with variations on the spending-denialism theme. A quickie roundup:

Ezra Klein, Washington Post:

We don't have a spending problem, we have a military spending problem.

Jamelle Bouie, The American Prospect:

We don't have a spending problem. But we will have lots of old people in the future.

Michael Cohen, The Guardian:

For decades, Republicans and more than a few Democrats have peddled this nonsense in calling for the government to trim its fiscal profligacy. 

Let's see, $1.77 trillion in fiscal year 2000; $3.72 trillion in fiscal 2010. Nope, no spending problem there!

Less sarcastically, I will say this to my Democratic friends: When entitlements chew up an ever-larger piece of the pie (a bit more than one-third of federal outlays now; an estimated one-half by 2030), then it can sure feel like the government is spending less money. And yes, the bulk of that 2000-2010 run-up was done under Republican watch. Neither change the–what did that guy call it again?–the arithmetic of the bottom line.

We are spending a helluva lot more money now than a decade ago, and we will be spending a helluva lot more money than that a decade from now, while never coming close to paying the bill with current taxes. No wonder so many people would rather talk about trillion-dollar fantasy coins.