Three recent policy debates in Congress and two recent research reports should give all of us very serious concern. I refer to the debates on the approval of the CAFTA treaty, the energy bill, and the transportation bill, all of which seemingly had desirable, or at least acceptable, outcomes from the Bush administration’s point of view, but with enormous costs in terms of the concessions made to special pleaders of all shapes and stripes in exchange for the votes (at least as many Republican as Democrat) to get them approved. The first research study to which I refer is by the Congressional Budget Office that, according to the Cato Institute, suggests we are moving in the direction of the “Euro-losers”. The report says that, given current trends, the federal government take of our national output will rise from today’s level of 20% to 30% in 2025 and 34% in 2040, which, when added to the 12% state and local government take, means that half of everything produced in this country will be inhaled by government. The other study is by the Heritage Foundation, which has created an “index of dependency” on government. It currently shows that, since 1980 (remember the Reagan Revolution?) our reliance on government has doubled as measured by the five main categories of government programs—housing, health care, retirement, education and farm subsidies. (Incidentally, can you honestly attribute to this growth in government domination any enhancement in the quality of the delivery of the product or service in these policy areas?)
Can anyone doubt that we are headed down the same path of economic self-destruction as Western Europe with these misguided trends? As Heritage economist William Beach notes, “A citizenry that reaches a certain tipping point in dependency on government runs the risk of evolving into a society that demands an ever-expanding government that caters to group self-interests rather than pursuing the public good”. Any rational observer who spent up to a half hour listening to the House or Senate floor debates on any of the policy issues above would agree that we are at or very near that tipping point.