NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Look At The Budget This Way, And Give Thanks

November 23, 1999

Champions of limited government can find plenty of reasons to lament the fiscal 2000 federal budget. But some analysts are finding rays of hope in its $1.75 trillion package -- even though it exceeds the entire economy of France.

Relative to the size of the American economy, the federal government is getting smaller.

  • For the first time in more than 25 years, federal spending slipped below 20 percent of gross domestic product this year.
  • It is projected at 19.3 percent next year -- a considerable improvement over the 24 percent the federal government consumed just 15 years ago.
  • The federal government has grown by 132 percent since 1982 -- but gross domestic product has increased by 176 percent.
  • And Americans' financial wealth has grown to $32 trillion from $7 trillion in the same period.

Given these signs of progress, some analysts believe federal spending could be chopped to 15 percent or even 10 percent of GDP. Such an achievement would require personalized accounts for Social Security, a flat 20 percent alternative maximum tax with unlimited individual retirement accounts, medical savings accounts, unilateral free trade, the abolition of corporate welfare and an ironclad commitment to keep the Internet tax- and regulation-free.

Source: Stephen Moore (Cato Institute), "Budget Bloat Hides Good News About Spending," Wall Street Journal, November 23, 1999.


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