I have long written that federal revenues need to return to the 20%+ level obtained during the Clinton administration – an era of surpluses. The Good Doc has favored Bushes tax cuts and policies, which brought tax revenues to post-war record lows and an era of massive deficits. He has asked where it is written that revenues should be any number in particular? He says we simply need to spend less than we take in.
My retort, of course, is that such spending cuts are untenable to the American people, who widely favor Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Those three programs – along with Defense and Interest comprise roughly 70% of federal spending and 100% of revenues. As a matter of fact, non-Defense discretionary spending is at the lowest level since the early 1960’s as a percentage of GDP. There is not public support for the kind of spending cuts that would come anywhere near to balancing the budget.
I will use basketball – the NBA – to make my point. Jimmy is very familiar with the subject and enjoys season tickets where you can nearly touch the court. Jim’s theoretical team is losing badly – scoring only 80 points per game while giving up 120. I keep saying that they need to improve on both sides of the ball. They need to score more and improve their defense. He stubbornly replies that they merely need to hold opposing teams to less than 80 PPG and they will win.
I say, “Gosh, Doc, if you look at the history of the sport – at least the last sixty years - you won’t find a winning team that only averages 80 PPG. If you want to win, you need to get your scoring over 100 and keep your opponents under 100.” He answers, “Where is it written that teams have to score over 80 to win? It’s all about defense. Our offensive play is just fine!”
And so it goes…