Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Reports last week that the recession is draining Social Security and Medicare funds were just one more reminder that the United States needs to fix its finances. For inspiration, why not look to Canada? Long derided by American conservatives as "socialist" and praised by the left for its generous government spending, Canada is casting off those stereotypes. Over the past few years, while U.S. politicians presided over huge increases in spending and debt, the Canadian government tightened its belt, slashed tax rates and balanced budgets.
Let's look at the following:
Spending: Spending by all levels of the Canadian government peaked at 53 percent of the country's GDP in the early 1990s, then plunged to 40 percent in 2008. U.S. government spending has risen, reaching 39 percent of GDP in 2008. And with the stimulus package, that number is likely to jump even higher.
Deficits: Canada has balanced its budget every year since 1998 — not by raising taxes, but by cutting spending. The United States balanced its budget for four years in the late 1990s, but now deficits are so large that it's difficult to imagine that ever happening again.
For all the "states" rights folks who "don't want politicians in Washington" to be like politicians in Ottawa:
Federalism: While the U.S. government grew more centralized in recent decades, Canada's federal government ceded power. President Bush's education policies increased federal control over American schools; in Canada, K-12 education is left to the provinces.