How Karen Bass prevailed against Rick Caruso’s $100-million campaign to cut Medicare and Social Security
In the past 12 years, the Republican Party of Texas has spent well over $100 million on a national anti-government campaign of lies, distortions, and false claims designed to undermine Medicare and Social Security. That spending has been largely justified with the claim that “Republicans are not for big spending.” That claim is entirely divorced from the actual facts.
That’s not true. A long-term track record of large spending is one of the defining characteristics of the American polity. The government’s share of Americans’ consumption expenditures rose from 20% in 1960 to 27% in 2005. The share of federal spending is now almost 50% of national income. What this means, in simple terms, is that the government is spending more every year than most of us can account for.
The American economy depends upon the government — through direct spending, tax collections, and debt service — to maintain prosperity. If we ever do achieve greater prosperity, that prosperity will have come at the expense of government expenditures.
The government can always run deficits; after all, the government can pay for anything that it spends money on. If the government ever runs a deficit to the extent that the economy needs to grow, such deficits should be financed by borrowing — and in the United States, that’s exactly what was done in 2011.
What, then, is the government doing to run deficits that are not needed for economic growth? It’s borrowing money at interest to run these deficits. How does Caruso’s campaign to cut the budget solve the issue of rising borrowing costs? It doesn’t. That’s a good problem for Republicans.
This is an area in which Republicans’ “I’m just not for big spending” position is very much a position of ignorance, not ideological extremism. They are saying this out of a fear that, having put large amounts of money behind this campaign to cut Medicare and Social Security, they will be in hot water if they go around telling America that they’re not for big spending.
A government, however, is only as big as