Ezra on why we are doomed. Formatting mine.
I didn’t say we hadn’t spent 18 percent of GDP since the 1960s. I said we hadn’t spent 18 percent of the previous year’s GDP since the 1960s. That’s because S.J.Res.10 says we can’t spend more than “18 percent of the gross domestic product of the United States for the calendar year ending before the beginning of such fiscal year.”
The reason they do that is clear enough: we don’t know what GDP will be in any given year until the year has ended, and you can’t set your budget as a percentage of a number you don’t actually know.
But 18 percent of last year’s GDP is not the same as 18 percent of GDP. Because the economy and the population grow each year, GDP grows each year. If you use current estimates, 18 percent of last year’s GDP is likely to be something like 16.7 percent of this year’s GDP. The last year we cleared that bar was 1956. In 1965 and 1966, however, we were in the 17 percent range, which I considered close enough to count as “the last time we were anywhere near there.”
It’s telling, I think, that the Cut, Cap and Balance proposal is much more extreme than most conservatives realize. These are pretty dramatic changes to want to make to both the Constitution and the American state, and it’s not clear to me that many of their proponents really understand them, or their implications.
Dear jeebus, eywah and the flying pasta monster: can you make it so that people who set the national agenda have some basic grasp of how policy works? Also the people who report it. That would be so great. Sorry about that thing I did in tenth grade.
Also, the suicide squad. Too.