Cato Institute:Spending is our problem Part 1

Uploaded by on Feb 15, 2011

Dan Mitchell, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, speaks at Moving Forward on Entitlements: Practical Steps to Reform, NTUF’s entitlement reform event at CPAC, on Feb. 11, 2011.

People think that we need to raise more revenue but I say we need to cut spending. Take a look at a portion of this article from the Cato Institute:

The Damaging Rise in Federal Spending and Debt

by Chris Edwards

Joint Economic Committee
United States Congress

Joint Economic CommitteeUnited States Congress

Added to cato.org on September 20, 2011

This testimony was delivered on September 20, 2011.

Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, thank you for inviting me to testify today. My comments will examine the likely damage to the economy if federal spending and debt keep spiraling upward.

Rising Spending and Debt

Federal spending and debt have soared over the past decade. As a share of gross domestic product, spending grew from 18 percent in 2001 to 24 percent in 2011, while debt held by the public jumped from 33 percent to 67 percent. The causes of this expansion include the costs of wars, growing entitlement programs, rising spending on discretionary programs, and the 2009 economic stimulus bill.

Projections from the Congressional Budget Office show that without reforms spending and debt will keep on rising for decades to come.1 Under the CBO’s “alternative fiscal scenario,” spending will grow to about 34 percent of GDP by 2035, as shown in Figure 1, and debt held by the public will increase to at least 187 percent of GDP.2

Hopefully, we will never reach anywhere near those levels of spending and debt. Going down that path would surely trigger major financial crises, as the ongoing debt problems in Europe illustrate. It is also very unlikely that Americans would support such a huge expansion of the government. The results of the 2010 elections suggest that the public has already started to revolt against excessive federal spending and debt.

Some policymakers are calling for a “balanced” package of spending cuts and tax increases to reduce federal deficits. But CBO projections show that the long-term debt problem is not a balanced one — it is caused by historic increases in spending, not shortages of revenues. Revenues have fallen in recent years due to the poor economy, but when growth returns, revenues are expected to rise to the normal level of about 18 percent of GDP — even with all current tax cuts in place. It is spending that is expected to far exceed normal levels in the future, and thus spending is behind the huge increases in debt that are projected.

1 Congressional Budget Office, “Long-Term Budget Outlook,” June 2011.
2 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, “Economic Outlook Database,” September 2011, Annex Table 25, http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/5/51/2483816.xls.

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