We Don't Have a Spending Problem
Posted at 2:29 p.m. on Jan. 4, 2013
Kevin Drum: “So what’s our real problem? That’s simple: America is getting older and healthcare costs are rising. That means we’ll need to spend more money in the future on Social Security and Medicare. There’s simply no way around that unless we’re willing to immiserate our elderly, and that’s not going to happen. Not only is it politically inconceivable, but the truth is that even Republicans don’t want to do it, no matter how tough a game they talk. Like it or not, this means that over the next 20 or 30 years, spending on the elderly is going to go up by three or four percent of GDP.”
“Spending in general has been well controlled for the past 30 years, averaging about 21 percent of GDP. With good management, that might go down a point or two, but certainly no more. Probably the lowest we can realistically hope for is about 19-20 percent of GDP. Add in the increased spending on the elderly, and federal outlays are going to be in the neighborhood of 23-24 percent of GDP by around 2030.
“Those are simply the facts. Even under a scenario where we control spending pretty tightly, spending is going to go up to about 24 percent of GDP. There’s really no politically feasible way of keeping it any lower. Anyone who cares about the deficit, then, needs to understand that in the long run, taxes need to go up to about 24 percent of GDP too.”
“We don’t have a spending problem. We have an aging problem and a taxing problem.”