The spending threat
One measure of the growth of governmental power is the growth of governmental spending. Federal outlays of $3.6 trillion in fiscal 2011 were 20.7% higher than in fiscal 2008. As two points of reference, gross domestic product (GDP) and the U.S. population have increased by 5.4% and 2.8%, respectively, since fall 2008.
Federal government spending was already at bloated and post-Constitutional levels in 2008. Yet during the past three years federal spending has surged and the growth in spending has outpaced GDP and population growth rates by appallingly wide margins -- multiples, actually. Since the current president was inaugurated, the national debt has swelled by $4.4 trillion or 41.7%.
As Mark Steyn points out in his latest book, After America, federal spending as a percentage of GDP during the administration of George W. Bush, no limited-government guy he, averaged a hefty 19.6%, but "Obama's solution was to attempt to crank it up to 25 to 30 percent as a permanent feature of life." Steyn writes that within a decade -- sooner if interest rates return to historic levels-- interest on the national debt will exceed military expenditures.
Massive, unbridled annual federal spending on such a scale is not just a spending problem, it's a moral one. As Steyn explains, it is not a "green eyeshade issue"; it's about "corroded liberty and a devalued citizenry" that has become disconnected from "the animating principles of the American idea." A federal government of this size and reach with its countless agencies, departments, bureaucrats, regulations, and programs is "wrong" because it represents "a transfer from the citizen to the state" of not only the fruits of our labor but power and liberty too.
For the reasons Steyn describes, liberals, when forced to face federal budget matters, dodge the prickly overspending (ergo, overreaching) issue and try to steer the discussion toward the deficit. If the Republicans would just get out of the way and let them tax at will, all would be well. After all, the greedy "rich" and those evil corporations have plenty of money to spare, right?
Wrong. And the truth is most liberals, and probably most people, have no concept of just how much a trillion dollars really is, never mind $4 trillion.
Earlier this year Bill Whittle of Declaration Entertainment produced an illuminating short video along these lines based on an IowaHawk blog post. When watching the video, keep in mind that the spending discussed is federal government spending only; it does not include the $2.2 trillion in state and local government spending.
We don't have enough money to fund current levels of government, much less future increases (and never mind paying down the debt). In light of this, Americans who love their country should be fuming over phony efforts like those of the recently disbanded and failed "super committee," which was concocted and endorsed by President Obama and Speaker John Boehner. Most of the hype and talk about "cuts" was falderal. As committee member Sen. John Kerry explained:
"Incidentally, when you say 'cuts,' it was slowing the rate of growth. It was not a cut to a benefit; it was a slowing of the rate at which it is growing."