If government spending in America had just held pace with population growth and inflation since 1954, government spending today would total $1.3 trillion. Instead, spending this year will top $5.4 trillion.
And while the spending has been going up, it’s not as if voters have been shy about expressing their point of view. The past half-century has included the tax revolt, the Reagan Revolution, the H. Ross Perot movement and Clinton’s declaration that the “Era of Big Government” was over.
It’s important to note that from 1954 to 2010, Republicans controlled the White House for 34 years and Democrats for 22. Democrats controlled Congress for 44 years, and the Republicans for 12. So this long-lasting spending spree was enabled on a completely bipartisan basis.
All of this frustration building among ordinary citizens was finally unleashed in the fall of 2008 with passage of the Wall Street bailout measures. That became the single most hated piece of legislation in modern American history. It was supported by both parties in Washington and opposed by voters from both parties throughout the country.
Still, while the bailouts triggered the voter outrage and have created problems for both parties in Washington, this issue was really just the tip of the iceberg. The frustration has been building for so long that roughly eight out of 10 Americans living today have never been alive when government spending went down.
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