Overwrought Language of the Day

Our Overwrought language award this week comes from Kevin Drum of Mother Jones, writing about Paul Ryan's budget plan.  Drum calls Ryan's budget a "Vision of a Dickensian Hellhole".  He quotes Jonathon Chait as saying, "Its enactment would amount to the most dramatic rollback of government since the New Deal."

All this for a budget that proposes to reduce government spending to about 19% of GDP, a level that we have not seen since the Dickensian Hellhole of ... the Bill Clinton Presidency.  During the New Deal, spending hovered around 10% of GDP.

This is the ratchet effect that big government lovers are so adept at employing.  Under President Obama (with a lot of help from George Bush and a Democratic Congress) spending has skyrocketed to an unprecedented-except-in-WWII level of over 25% of GDP.  But suddenly Drum and Chait and company want to define that level as the new baseline, below which any drop is now "Dickensian."  Which is another reason that we should never, ever create a new government spending program because once established they are impossible to eliminate, no matter how stupid and wasteful.



  1. chembot:

    Another frustrating argument I get from folk is that we can't cut the size of gov't because the larger economy wouldn't absorb them into the private workforce. ("What do all those people do for jobs?") It's almost as if the government's primary responsibility is to be a jobs program for useless functionaries who otherwise have no marketable value. Pretty degrading mentality when you think about it. It assumes that if the government doesn't do something, it doesn't get done (...and that no private actor would ever hire these people.) I for one would be thrilled to have a jobs training program designed specifically to retool these people for the private workforce or encourage private entrepreneurship as government gets out of the business of... well, most things.

  2. kidmugsy:

    We got the same tripe at the recent British general election. "Tories want to reduce spending to the level of the Great Depression" screamed the Left. It turned out that the Tory target was the spending levels of the early years of the previous Labour government.

  3. vikingvista:

    It would be interesting to know the level of British government spending during Dickens' time. I suspect it was considerably less than 10% of GDP.