From Congressman Tom McClintock: To understand the federal budget mess and the so-called fiscal cliff, it’s important to remember three numbers: 39, 37 and 64. Thirty nine percent is the combined increase of inflation and population over the last ten years. Thirty nine percent. Thirty seven percent is the increase in revenues during the same period. That’s despite the recession and tax cuts. Not quite keeping place, but pretty close.
Sixty four is what’s killing us. Sixty four percent is the increase in federal spending in that period.
That’s nearly twice the rate of inflation and population over the last ten years.
The spending side of the fiscal cliff is the so-called sequester: automatic cuts in federal spending. To hear some tell it, these cuts will mean the end of western civilization.
Hardly. After a 64 percent increase in expenditures this decade, the sequester doesn’t actually cut spending at all: it simply limits spending growth next year to about a half a percent.
I opposed the budget deal that created the sequester last year because it fell woefully short of what Standard and Poors clearly warned was necessary to preserve the nation’s triple-A credit rating. Sadly, that fear was born out. But now, the sequester is all we have.
It’s true that defense takes the brunt of it, but does our defense spending today really need to be higher – inflation adjusted — than it was at the height of the Vietnam War, when we faced down the Soviet Union and had 500,000 combat troops in the field?
The sequester isn’t stepping off a cliff – it’s taking one step back from the cliff.
The tax increases, however, are a different matter.