By Tom Quiner
The flash point simply comes down to this: Democrats think we’re undertaxed, Republicans don’t.
Republican Paul Ryan offered a modest reduction in the RATE of increase of federal spending and was crucified for it. He avoided tax increases to reduce the deficit.
So who is right? A quick analysis of government spending vs. tax receipts reveals the answer: we have a spending problem, not a revenue problem.
Democrats have understandably praised Bill Clinton’s management of the budget. His 2000 budget produced a quarter-of-a-trillion dollar surplus.
How did he do it? Obviously, he spent less than he took in. Let’s take a closer look.
In 2000, the Clinton budget took in an average of $7196 per citizen.
Contrast that with the Obama projected revenue numbers for this year. If we adjust for inflation, the Obama budget will bring in $7003 per citizen in 2000 dollars. Not a very big difference, is it?
By the way, I arrive at these numbers by simply taking total government receipts and dividing by the U.S. population for that year.
Where things get interesting is if you contrast the spending of these two presidents.
Using the same approach as above, the Clinton budget spent $6356 per citizen compared to a staggering $8986 per citizen for Obama, again keeping everything in inflation-adjusted dollars for the year 2000.
Revenues have dipped only slightly since the Clinton budget, and that is due to the recession and weak economic recovery in the Obama years.
On the other hand, spending has skyrocketed. The Obama approach to government spends $2630 more per citizen than the Clinton approach in inflation-adjusted dollars.
For the record, the Paul Ryan budget spends more than George W. Bush’s final whopper-of-a-budget. It is not an austere budget by any standard. What we really need to do is to roll back spending to levels more in line with the Clinton budget.
Why was Mr. Clinton so much more frugal than Mr. Obama? I suggest it is the difference between a Speaker Newt Gingrich vs. a Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
All revenue bills begin in the House of Representatives. Clinton had to contend with a Speaker who checked his spending excesses. Obama got to work with a Speaker who indulged his spending excesses.
Whatever the reason, time to roll back spending. Time to be accountable to our posterity.