Richard Rahn explains How Congress Lost Control of Government Spending. Programs enacted decades ago have grown dramatically and keep growing, often beyond their original purpose, claiming ever-larger shares of tax revenue, leaving little flexibility to undertake discretionary spending of any kind. Rahn quotes Eugene Steuerle of The Urban Institute, author of a new book “Dead Men Ruling”:
In recent decades, both parties have conspired to create and expand a series of public programs that automatically grow so fast that they claim every dollar of additional tax revenue that the government generates each year. … Unlike reaching the moon, rejuvenating the economy, winning a war, or curing a disease, none of these permanent programs are designed to achieve goals or solve problems once and for all. Almost all of them simply maintain, and often perpetually increase, subsidies for some pattern of consumption….
John Maynard Keynes’ spoke of the lasting influence of defunct thinkers:
Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.
Add to this the budgetary strictures imposed by metastasizing government consumption programs and we get what amounts to zombie governance.