If you were born after the Eisenhower administration, you've never seen lower federal taxes in America than you do right now under the Obama administration. I've mentioned this fact before, but Rep. Kristi Noem and Senator John Thune keep repeating their residual Norquistism that our budget deficit comes entirely from too much spending and not from too little revenue, I have to keep pointing out the facts.
This time Charlie Cook from the National Journal helps me out with this simple chart of our federal taxing and spending over the last five decades:
The dotted lines show that, yes, we do have an ongoing problem of spending (red) more than we collect in taxes (blue). But notice also the two big dips of the last decade. Faced with recessions, we dropped our tax rates in hopes of stimulating the economy. Even with the increases imposed by the fiscal cliff deal, we are still dedicating a notably smaller chunk of our national income to running the state than we did in, most tellingly, the 1990s, during which time we had a happily humming economy that I bet nine out of ten people would love to return to. The 1990s were also the halcyon days when a Democratic President and a Republican Congress could agree on a budget that paid down our debt.
The above chart makes clear that the one-sided fiscal policy of Thune and Noem is a fairy tale. We will not solve our budget deficit just by cutting spending, especially not when Thune and Noem keep fighting for their pet projects here in South Dakota. We will properly address the debt when we face reality: our historically low tax rates make it impossible to balance the budget. A responsible budget will include spending cuts and tax increases.