Federal spending keeps increasing every year, and the fiscal year 2017 numbers have soared to a record high. Furthermore, the budget deficit is once again on an upward trend. It’s difficult to fathom just how much money is at stake when those numbers reach into the multiple trillions, so Libertarian National Committee Chair Nicholas Sarwark argues that it makes more common sense to look at government spending in a more individual way.
“Rather than talk in billions and trillions of dollars for Federal deficits and spending, the magnitude of which is hard to grasp, I like to express the numbers in terms of dollars spent and borrowed per person,” Sarwark said. “In 2000, before the serious war spending in Afghanistan and Iraq began, per capita spending (dollars spent for every man, woman, and child in the country) was $6,344. There was not a deficit that year. The budget showed a surplus of $837 on a per capita basis.”
The federal government’s spending peaked in 2009 thanks to its “stimulus” spending, a foolhardy reaction to the recession. Tax revenues also dropped.
“Per capita spending ballooned by 81 percent to $11,456, and per capita deficits exploded to $4,603,” Sarwark said. “Keynesian academic economic prescriptions call for government spending to decrease during economic good times, but spending during the Obama ‘economic recovery years’ remained essentially flat through the end of his presidency.”
Ordinary people throughout the United States were continually told that the economy had recovered, but they didn’t feel it in their wallets or bank accounts.
“They voted to ‘drain the swamp’ and elected Donald Trump,” Sarwark said. “They bought the rhetoric that Republicans would cut federal spending, end Obamacare, and lower taxes. How has that worked out? Per capita federal spending increased to $12,000 per person and the per capita deficit increased to $2,040 per person — even higher than during the last three Obama years.”
Republicans also can’t muster the political will to repeal Obamacare or pass any tax cuts.
“The reasons are fairly simple,” Sarwark said. “More than two thirds of the federal budget consists of various poorly run insurance schemes: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, veterans’ benefits, and welfare — not to mention interest on the national debt. Neither Democrats nor Republicans have the courage to deal with this elephant in the room.”
Defense spending, which accounts for 16 percent of federal spending, may be even more politically untouchable.
“Libertarians believe that all adult relationships should be voluntary,” Sarwark said. “No one should be forced to buy an insurance policy for retirement, medical care, or anything else where the terms of the contract are dictated by politicians and bureaucrats. Get the feds out of the insurance business and federal spending per person can be reduced from $12,000 to $3,000. Limiting the Department of Defense to actual defense and ending elective wars around the globe can cut defense spending in half, saving every American another $1,000.”
Together, those cuts along would amount to an 83 percent reduction in federal spending for every man, woman, and child in the country, along with a corresponding reduction in their tax burdens.
“We trust that with that kind of tax reduction, Americans will be more than capable of saving for their own retirement and medical care,” Sarwark said. “Libertarians trust that Americans can take care of themselves just fine. Republicans and Democrats don’t. It’s that simple.”