Lawrence Summers does a pretty fair job of explaining why there isn’t much chance that, regardless of who is elected in November and regardless of intentions, we will shrink the size of the federal government appreciably. It boils down to:
- An aging population means we’ll spend more on Social Security retirement payments and Medicare.
- The cost of financing the debt is much more likely to rise than to fall.
- Plain old supply and demand and the deadweight loss of government spending.
or, shorter, unless things change they will stay the same, adjusted for demographics and increased cost of borrowing.
Right now there are something like 20 million people unemployed. What we’re doing now isn’t putting those people back to work. If we want to put those people back to work, we’re going to need to change some things. As Shakespeare put it, nothing will come of nothing. If we don’t change anything, those people won’t go back to work.
It is either stupidity or sophistry to claim that we can’t make substantial reductions in military spending without compromising national security. Can we do that without making any changes? No.
It is either stupidity or sophistry to claim that we can’t make substantial reductions in healthcare spending without compromising the American people’s health. Can we do that without making any changes? No.
I might add that Dr. Summers is ignoring something. Federal government is not the only government and, unless you can come up with a good reason that the deadweight loss of government spending only applies to the federal government, if it’s absolutely positively necessary for the federal government to grow, then maybe it’s also absolutely positively necessary for state and local government to shrink. Unless you don’t give a damn about all of those unemployed people.
Or, maybe, in less you don’t care how small the private sector becomes so long as there’s free healthcare. Then you’re Cuba.