The unanswered question: What about Clinton-era spending rates?
According to official government figures, the feds collected revenues totaling 20.6 percent of the gross domestic product in 2000, the final full year of Clinton’s term. Under Obama in 2012, however, Washington spent money at a near-record rate of 24.3 percent of the GDP. Even with all of Clinton’s tax revenues, that still would have left a deficit of 3.7 percent of GDP, significantly higher even than the worst full year of the much-reviled George W. Bush.
Moreover, to reach Clinton-era revenue levels, Congress and the president would need to let all the Bush-era tax cuts expire, not just erasing breaks that benefit the wealthy. Yearly tax burdens for a typical, middle-class family earning $50,000 a year would increase $3,700, a development leaders of both parties consider utterly unacceptable. And all those punishing payments by hard-working, stressed-out Americans would still leave us with dangerous, damaging levels of deficit spending…
Conservatives ought to face up squarely to the uncomfortable fact that there’s scant evidence that sharply reduced taxation since the Clinton era has helped middle-class Americans build wealth or improve their economic standing.
But Democrats and other Obama apologists must confront the even more obvious truth that similarly steep hikes in federal outlays have done nothing to lift the circumstances of ordinary Americans. Washington has increased its share of the national economy by a frightening 34 percent since Slick Willy left office. It’s not possible to blame all of that on Bush’s two costly wars or his prescription drug benefit, as Obama increased federal spending as a share of GDP far more rapidly than did Bush.