President Reagan's first budget director David Stockman unleashed on Republicans in the New York Times this Sunday. Two cheers for partisan apostasy, but some of his statements suggest a misunderstanding of what's going on with some of these numbers. First:
By fiscal year 2009, the tax-cutters had reduced federal revenues to 15 percent of gross domestic product, lower than they had been since the 1940s.
Actually, the recession did that. Here's a graph of spending and taxes as a percentage of GDP since Stockman's budget director days. All things considered, the numbers are pretty homeostatic before this recession, when all of a sudden, tax receipts drop to 15 percent of GDP.
Stockman also writes:
This debt explosion has resulted not from big spending by the Democrats, but instead the Republican Party's embrace, about three decades ago, of the insidious doctrine that deficits don't matter if they result from tax cuts.
That's not fair. This debt "explosion" has resulted from both parties increasing the federal government's spending, especially on health care and income security, while they both voted for tax cuts. And the reason we're facing a crisis on the spending side is mostly medical spending in programs passed under Democratic President LBJ and supported and supplemented under further Republican administrations: