Back in the ancient days before the Internet, before Disco, even before the Beatles, Chubby Checker popularized a song called “Limbo Rock”. The dance craze involved bending backwards and shimmying under a limbo stick, a bar, that could be raised or lowered. An Olympic pole vaulter tries to get over the bar. A limbo dancer tries to get under the bar.
Below is a 30 year graph of Federal revenues as a percentage of GDP.
The Heritage Foundation has a 70 year chart of Federal revenues, showing the 18% historical average – the bar – of revenues to GDP and projected 2010 revenues of less than 15%. The AP released a story today that Federal revenues for the 2011 tax year are also projected to be below 15%.
We don’t like bending over backwards, so we party on under a different bar, one that we keep raising. That bar is the national debt.
Those to the left of center will repeat their mantra that the government needs to spend more when times are tough. “Raise the bar,” they chant. Those on the right will continue to press for more spending cuts (but not defense spending, their sacred cow). “Stoop lower,” they encourage. A reasonably sane person would say we need both cuts and higher taxes if we are to avoid the long term problems of ballooning government deficits and long term debt.