Friday, January 18, 2013

I Love the 90's

I think people forget a big part of why the 90's were (fiscally) awesome.  Talking about the Friendsiest decade, Arnold Kling says in his comments section:

My assessment is that the main reason that the budget did so well is that revenue came in unexpectedly high.  

That happened and it was a big part of it.  But it's not all of it.  Government spending was also kept incredibly stable in and around the 90's (graph stolen from Veronique de Rugby):

There is some noise and some wiggling in between, but real federal outlays per capita were more-or-less the same in 2001 as they were in 1985.  Sixteen years of no spending growth!  That's pretty awesome!  And it's proof that the good budgets in the Clinton years weren't just thanks to more revenue, congress toed the line on the spending side too (i think the main culprits here were cutting defense spending after the cold war and social security reform).

There's a myth on the right that once the government gets heavily into redistribution  people will vote themselves more and more goodies, special interests will grab more and more rents, and government will grow and grow.  And maybe sometimes it will.  But for sixteen years it didn't.  Either something incredibly exceptional happened in those 16 years, or else welfare state does not = perpetual growth in government.

No comments:

Post a Comment