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As that rail and subway strike continued to paralyze travel in Paris and across France into the third week, President Emmanuel Macron made a Christmas appeal to his dissatisfied countrymen:

“Strike action is justifiable and protected by the constitution, but I think there are moments in a nation’s life when it is good to observe a truce out of respect for families and family life.”

Macron’s appeal has gone largely unheeded.

“The public be damned!” seems to be the attitude of many of the workers who are tying up transit to protest Macron’s plan to reform a pension system that consumes 14% of GDP.

Macron wants to raise to 64 the age of eligibility for full retirement benefits. Not terribly high. And to set an example, he is surrendering his lifetime pension that is to begin when he becomes an ex-president.

Yet, it is worth looking more closely at France because she appears to be at a place where the rest of Europe and America are headed.

In France, the government collects 46% of the GDP in taxes and spends 56% of GDP, the highest figures in the Western world.

And Paris appears to be bumping up against the limits of what democratic voters will tolerate in higher taxes, or reductions in benefits, from the postwar welfare states the West has created.

A year ago, when Macron sought to raise fuel taxes to cut carbon emissions, the “yellow vests” came out in protests that degenerated into rioting, looting, arson, desecration of monuments and attacks on police.

Paris capitulated and canceled the tax.

How do we compare?

The U.S. national debt is now larger than the GDP. Only in 1946, the year after World War II, was U.S. debt a larger share of GDP than today.

In 2019, the U.S. ran a deficit just shy of $1 trillion, and the U.S. government projects trillion-dollar deficits through the decade, which begins next week. And we will be running these deficits not to stimulate an economy in recession, as President Obama did, but to pile them on top of an economy at full employment.

In short, we are beginning to run historic deficits in a time of prosperity. Whatever the economic theory behind this, it bears no resemblance to the limited government-balanced budget philosophy of the party of Ronald Reagan.

The questions the U.S. will inevitably face are the ones France faces: At what point does government consumption of the national wealth become too great a burden for the private sector to bear? At what point must cuts be made in government spending that will be seen by the people, as they are seen in France today, as intolerable?

While a Republican Congress ran surpluses in the 1990s, when defense spending fell following our Cold War victory, Dwight Eisenhower was the last Republican president to run surpluses.

ORDER IT NOW

Opposition to new or higher taxes appears to be the one piece of ground today on which Republicans will not yield. But if so, where are the cuts going to come from that will be virtually mandated if U.S. debt is not to grow beyond any sustainable level?

America’s long-term problem:

Deficits are projected to run regularly in the coming decade at nearly 5% of GDP while economic growth has fallen back to 2%.

With taxes off the table, where, when and how do we cut spending?

Or does each new administration kick the can down the road?

The five principal items in the federal budget are these:

Social Security, which consumes 25% of that budget. Yet, Social Security outlays will reach the point this year where payroll taxes no longer cover them. The “trust fund” will have to be raided. Translation: The feds will have to borrow money to cover the Social Security deficit.

Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare and other health programs account for another fourth of the budget. All will need more money to stay solvent.

Defense, which used to take 9% of GDP in JFK’s time and 6% in Ronald Reagan’s buildup, is now down to 3.2% of GDP.

Yet, while defense’s share of GDP is among the smallest since before World War II, U.S. commitments are as great as they were during the Cold War. We are now defending 28 NATO nations, containing Russia, and maintaining strategic parity. We have commitments in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and the global war on terror. We defend South Korea and Japan from a nuclear-armed North Korea and China.

Yet another major item in the budget is interest on the debt.

And as that U.S. debt surges with all the new deficits this decade, and interest rates inevitably begin to rise, interest on the debt will rise both in real terms and as a share of the budget.

Again, is France the future of the West?

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.”

Copyright 2019 Creators.com.

 
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  1. MarkinLA says:

    it bears no resemblance to the limited government-balanced budget philosophy of the party of Ronald Reagan.

    Sure it does Pat. It is exactly like the don’t do what you say philosophy of the party of Ronald Reagan.

    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
    , @Michael888
  2. Al Monee says:

    “Defense, which used to take 9% of GDP in JFK’s time and 6% in Ronald Reagan’s buildup, is now down to 3.2% of GDP”

    Pat, why don’t you point out that defense related spending is also about 25% of the budget like you pointed out it is both for Social Security and Heath expenditures? Why the switcheroo in terminology to % of GDP for the now decades-growing defense spending?

    Old people may need income support, sick people may need medical support, but NO people need a militarily bloated empire which only brings them grief and the slow-mo dismantling of their once-Republic…

  3. France and Amurika: Duality… (note language)

  4. Or does each new administration kick the can down the road?

    Yeah. That’s the plan.

  5. Chinaman says:

    Defense, which used to take 9% of GDP in JFK’s time and 6% in Ronald Reagan’s buildup, is now down to 3.2% of GDP.

    Clever sleight of hand. Pat was saying social security is % of federal budget and the suddenly switch the unit to % of GDP when it comes to defence spending and benchmark it against past administrations. The reality is that it takes 20- 25% % of the ferderal budget to finance US’s wars. More than education and infrastructure combined. Lies and there are statistics. Defence is just a bad euphemism for foreign wars.

    Perhaps a more balanced perspective is to look at US arms spending relative to other countries. US is 36% of global arms spending while only 20% of global GDP. It spends more than next 5 countries combined. If we are to follow Pat’s recommendations to spend up to 6%-9% of GDP on defence. The US would be spending more than the rest of the world combined !

    • Agree: Tusk, Charlemagne
    • Replies: @freedom-cat
  6. Greedy elite, their politicians, lobbyists, hedge funds, (((etc.))) continue to extract wealth out of the West and return prescious little. When the mafia-style bust out has bled the patient white we will be discarded and left for dead. TV host Dylan Ratigan, one of the only righteous members of MSNBC, pointed this out on a fantastic televised rant (which you should search for) and now works for charities.

  7. And we will be running these deficits not to stimulate an economy in recession, as President Obama did, but to pile them on top of an economy at full employment.

    To “stimulate” the economy in the same manner that a heart-lung machine keeps alive a patient who would otherwise expire.

    We have the flight profile of a hot air balloon. Turn off the gas and down we go.

  8. TGD says:

    In short, we are beginning to run historic deficits in a time of prosperity. Whatever the economic theory behind this, it bears no resemblance to the limited government-balanced budget philosophy of the party of Ronald Reagan.

    Ronald Reagan readily accepted “supply side” economics, which is based on the “Laffer Curve.” George H.W. Bush called supply side “voodoo economics.” In short, supply side theory says that less taxation means more revenue. Cutting taxes increases government revenue a bit but deficits soar. Dick Cheney said that “deficits don’t matter.” So there it stands.

    There was a time when Republicans worried about big deficits, but that was almost 60 years ago.

    • Replies: @John Johnson
  9. @Chinaman

    Ya, he loses his credibility in the article when he starts manipulating the figures like he did.

    • Replies: @anonymous
  10. @MarkinLA

    Right on, my Angeleno Hermano. When an intelligent, experienced, savvy guy like Buchanan writes something like “the limited-government balanced-budget philosophy of Ronald Reagan”, I think that perhaps I should not trust him.

  11. anonymous[245] • Disclaimer says:
    @freedom-cat

    Mr. Paleoconservative’s “credibility” is fading fast. Note the stale, jingoistic justification for flushing away all that money:

    “We are now defending 28 NATO nations, containing Russia, and maintaining strategic parity. We have commitments in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and the global war on terror. We defend South Korea and Japan from a nuclear-armed North Korea and China.”

    We, We, We.

    I suppose there are still some childish readers here who believe in Uncle Sam. But it has become more and more apparent that Mr. Buchanan is a right sizing apologist for American imperialism, swaddled in threadbare RedBlue politics and acceptable dissidence.

    • Replies: @Farmer
  12. joe2.5 says:

    Stop whining. Close the War Department and use all its assets, minus perhaps a thin sliver to protect US borders, and you’ll have more than enough for any reasonable need. The same goes for our puppet nations.
    Perhaps not, but we don’t really know everything — except that we know that’s where the root of the disease lies. No harm, then, in trying.

  13. We are now defending 28 NATO nations, containing Russia, and maintaining strategic parity. We have commitments in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and the global war on terror. We defend South Korea and Japan from a nuclear-armed North Korea and China.

    Once again Pat confirms his position as one of America’s greatest living comedians.

  14. Farmer says:
    @anonymous

    I understand the “We” as a simple rhetorical device. Regardless of what we think of the captain or crew, we’re all on the same boat.

    • Replies: @anonymous
  15. anonymous[245] • Disclaimer says:
    @Farmer

    And pronoun propaganda keeps the galley slaves rowing right along.

  16. Pat didn’t mention the newly passed outrageous budget, the largest in history, with no doubt the largest deficit. Tucker Carlson has been criticizing it on his show the past few nights. While the media covered impeachment wall-to-wall, the parties got together in the dead of night to pass this monstrosity before their long Christmas break. And Trump, the ultimate con man, signed it.

    Trump obviously hopes that the air doesn’t go out of the balloon before he is re-elected. When it finally pops, it may make 2008 seem like child’s play. David Stockman has been warning about the impending collapse of the economy since the day Trump signed that obscene tax cut, which only benefitted those who didn’t need the money. Yet his MAGA people worship at his feet for giving them an extra $5/week in take home pay.

    • Replies: @Ozymandias
  17. Rebel0007 says:

    To claim that the Republicans are fiscally responsible is a joke. The proof is in the deficets. The surplusses under the Clinton/RNC congress still increased the national debt. They were merely reductions in projected spending, but were actually deficets.

    If someone thought that they would borrow 10,000 next year, and borrowed 7,000, they could not claim that they had a surplus of 3,000. That is exactly what Clinton/ RNC congress did.

    I think that they are just lying about consumption in GDP. PCR mentioned counting things twice, maybe just making things up!

    Consumption in 2018 was reported to be 69% of GDP totalling $13.9 trillion. If there are 330 million Americans, that would be over $42,000 of consumption for every man, woman, and child in America!

    I think that they must be adding government services into it, counting those twice or thrice, which is reported at 17% of GDP.

    They just don’t want us to know, because it might cause a revolution, or something!

  18. rivertrek says:

    Wow, Michelle Ledeen and her neo-con girlfriends have really been busy on the comments.

  19. bluedog says:

    Well Pats simply gone over the edge its time to lock him up,the republicans never saw a war they didn’t like,that’s why they murdered a sitting president, nor a law put on the working class stripping them of a decent wage,buying safe products or a safe work place, as the recession deepens perhaps into a depression, exposing the party of Reagan for what they really were.As the one writer said “the government is a rotten carcass that the maggots are feeding on,the democrats are rooting for the maggots the republicans are rooting for the rotten carcass”,and neither party cares about the people.!!!

    • Replies: @Realist
    , @John Johnson
  20. Realist says:

    Defense, which used to take 9% of GDP in JFK’s time and 6% in Ronald Reagan’s buildup, is now down to 3.2% of GDP.

    What is this defense you speak of…do you mean the war/hegemony budget? The US defense budget is a pittance…the big bucks go to the war/hegemony effort, that is where the Deep State gets much of its wealth and power.

  21. Realist says:
    @bluedog

    …the republicans never saw a war they didn’t like,…

    Same for the democrats.

    • Replies: @A123
    , @bluedog
    , @Michael888
  22. A123 says:
    @Realist

    Historicially, every major U.S. War has started under a Democrat.

    The only exception is Iraq. And, at that point in time the NeoConDemocrats had heavily contaminated the GOP. If G. W. Bush wanted to run on his “pro-war”, “pro-Wall Street”, “pro-Mass Migration” platform today, he would:

    — Fit well on stage with the other DNC candidates.
    — Be laughed out of the GOP.

    MERRY CHRISTMAS 🎄

    • Replies: @Realist
  23. anonymous[167] • Disclaimer says:

    “Racist” is an anti-White slur. It means Shut up Whitey! Accept your replacement! Open borders and diversity for you, ethnic nationalism for me!

    Diversity is so obviously beneficial that they have to create laws to prevent you from escaping it or even questioning its benefit.

    Homogeneous non-White countries/communities are acceptably ‘diverse’. They don’t have to import and ‘assimilate’ anybody. But as long as a White family exists somewhere, they’ll ‘need diversity’.

    Diversity means Chasing Down the Last White Person.

    I suppose when America becomes homogeneous non-White, it will then be adequately ‘diverse’.

    • Agree: Charlemagne
  24. Miro23 says:

    Pat should have put in a word for inflation. It’s a great way to get rid of un-payable debts while ruining middle class savers and fixed income people/pensioners.

    It worked in 1920’s Weimar Germany, where the financial elite did very well out of it.

  25. bluedog says:
    @Realist

    Have to agree on that for the two parties are like the birds wings they are both connected to the same body, one won’t benefit with out the other.!!!

  26. Realist says:
    @A123

    Historicially, every major U.S. War has started under a Democrat.

    Only true in the last century. Not true in the nineteenth century or present century.

    The only exception is Iraq.

    Correction: Iraq twice, Afghanistan and civil war. Republicans have involved the US in numerous smaller wars and skirmishes.

  27. Rebel0007 says:

    Yes, regarding my previous comment, number 17, above, I am pretty sure that government spending is counted 3 times in GDP calculation. That is not how the multiplyer effect is supposed to function! Just for the record!

    It seems that government spending listed at $3.57 trillion (17% of GDP), listed first as government spending, and then is counted in consumption also when salaries of government employees, and medicare, medicaid, social security, and government pensions recipients are spent as consumers, etc., and then is added onto the consumption total seperate again, just for the hell of it.

    That would place actual consumption at $ 6.76 trillion. Since the U.S. imports nearly everything that it consumes except food and services, and the U.S. imported $3.1 trillion worth of goods and services, and exported $2 trillion worth of goods and services, that seems to be far more realistic than claiming that U.S. consumers consumed $13.9 trillion worth of goods and services a year, a median average of $42,424 with a population of 330 million.

    Business investment was reported to be 18% of GDP.

  28. Rebel0007 says:

    Regarding comment 27 above, that would place GDP at $14 trillion, and not $21 trillion.

  29. Rebel0007 says:

    Regarding comment 27 above, that would place actual 2018 GDP at $14 trillion.

  30. The pension “reforms” issue is much more complicated than you think. I was a pension trustee for 15 years, and understand how pensions work and are regulated, unlike many “financial experts” who are investment advisors.
    The government is forcibly combining several pension plans. Pension plans exist for the benefit of those who have paid in, not the government. I have no information on the financial health of the pension plans involved, or the manner in which they pay benefits. However, if they are being forcibly combined, it is entirely likely that the financial health and/or the manner in which benefits are paid, are different, which would mean that the beneficiaries of at least one plan are losing benefits to subsidize beneficiaries of another plan.
    It’s the strikers’ money Macron is dicking around with, not the French government’s.

  31. Amon says:

    The welfare states would be able to function for centuries if the governments of western nations would stop wasting trillions on wars for Israel, paying for Africa’s and Asia’s socialists regimes and over breeding programs while also proving massive amounts of welfare to non western citizens who arrive uninvited to the borders of all western nations.

    The wealth of a nation should be for the people of that nation, not foreigners and jewish parasites.

    • Agree: RadicalCenter
    • Replies: @John Johnson
  32. @follyofwar

    “…warning about the impending collapse of the economy since the day Trump signed that obscene tax cut… Yet his MAGA people worship at his feet”

    Those damned fools! Don’t they understand that you can see the future?

    • Replies: @bluedog
  33. @Amon

    The welfare states would be able to function for centuries if the governments of western nations would stop wasting trillions on wars for Israel, paying for Africa’s and Asia’s socialists regimes

    Most of the Africa funding has gone to capitalist countries.

    We have funded numerous democratic African countries under the conservative/libertarian theory that all you need is capitalism and democracy. Those countries are still considered “less developed” countries even though some have been capitalist since WWII.

    Germany went from being having its cities bombed to rubble in WWII to 25% gdp growth in 1950.

    Both liberal and conservative economic theories are deeply flawed when it comes to fixing countries.

  34. @TGD

    Ronald Reagan readily accepted “supply side” economics, which is based on the “Laffer Curve.” George H.W. Bush called supply side “voodoo economics.” In short, supply side theory says that less taxation means more revenue.

    I wouldn’t mix the Laffer Curve with what GHB called voodoo economics.

    The Laffer Curve actually states that less taxation only means more revenue if existing tax rates are punitive. It doesn’t predict that lower taxes always result in more revenue. It’s described as a curve because going too far in either direction results in less revenue.

    Many Republicans have missed this point or simply don’t care. We saw this with GWB where his tax cuts didn’t pay for themselves.

    Not that Democrats are any better. They seem to think they can pile on the middle class without any repercussions. At the state level they have also been fine with raising sales and property taxes while claiming to care about the poor.

    • Agree: bluedog
  35. @bluedog

    Well Pats simply gone over the edge its time to lock him up,the republicans never saw a war they didn’t like,that’s why they murdered a sitting president

    Well the US entered the Vietnam war under Kennedy and Johnson. Of course the liberal media never mentions this and reveres Kennedy as some god like peacemaker when he was really just a centrist that cheated on his wife with a 19 year old.

    Kennedy was most likely killed by Johnson, not Republicans. Johnson had the motivation and Texas connections. He never wanted to be vice president and was jealous of Kennedy.

    Anyways Pat is right that the US is headed for populist protests.

    The government continues to increase spending levels while expecting more from workers.

    Republicans and Democrats are both part of the problem.

    • LOL: bluedog
    • Replies: @bluedog
  36. bluedog says:
    @Ozymandias

    Of course they can’t the MAGA is a cult and Trump is their cult leader,hell they would follow him over a thousand foot cliff, or jump off it if he so instructed, as they say you can’t fix stupid and they wrote the book on stupidity.!!!

  37. Anonyous says:

    The heavy BURDEN of more KOSHER TAXES on the working poor….USA the costs of more Kosher WARS…only benefits China, Russia.

  38. bluedog says:
    @John Johnson

    That populist protest will be about the size of a tent meeting, with 25% living in poverty, another what 20% on some kind of far out drugs,20/25 % on the top that could care less if they lived in a democracy or a domestic imperial dictatorship,no Pat is living in a long gone time which I believe is due to his age and the good old times.!!!

    • Replies: @John Johnson
  39. Paul says:

    Donald Trump wants tax cuts for the rich and big increases in spending for military industries. It is sometimes called “socialism for the rich.”

  40. Anon[401] • Disclaimer says:

    Patti is funny when he is off his meds and on a Tequila Binge! Which the only time he writes. He is an inbred moron that spews random thoughts and claims everything is the opposite of what it actually is. I like him better on TV when he gets to yell…

  41. “U.S. commitments are as great as they were during the Cold War. We are now defending 28 NATO nations, containing Russia, and maintaining strategic parity. We have commitments in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and the global war on terror. We defend South Korea and Japan from a nuclear-armed North Korea and China.”
    Overstretch is a danger for every powerful state. 2020 threatens more risks for the US – and the whole world – and the pattern of history bodes ill for the future of mankind.
    https://www.ghostsofhistory.wordpress.com/

  42. @bluedog

    That populist protest will be about the size of a tent meeting, with 25% living in poverty, another what 20% on some kind of far out drugs,20/25 % on the top that could care less if they lived in a democracy or a domestic imperial dictatorship

    All revolutions involve a small percentage of the population. The Communists knew this which is partly why they didn’t support democracy.

    Globalist right and left are running out of explanations.

    It’s only a matter of time before there is a populist outbreak in the US.

    The government has too many outstanding bills and no plan to pay them. Republicans don’t have the guts to tax the wealthy and Democrats don’t have the guts to cut welfare. So they’ll compromise and stick it to the middle class.

    • Replies: @bluedog
  43. @MarkinLA

    Pat Buchanan lives in denial because he was associated with Reagan. The Soviet Union fell with Reagan’s assurances to Gorbachev that NATO would not move an inch closer to Russia than Berlin.
    For all Reagan’s Happy Talk on small government, reduced spending, he did the exact opposite, as detailed by Sheldon L. Richman in 1988 “The Sad Legacy of Ronald Reagan”:

    “Spending
    In 1980, Jimmy Caner’s last year as president, the federal government spent a whopping 27.9% of “national income” (an obnoxious term for the private wealth produced by the American people). Reagan assaulted the free-spending Carter administration throughout his campaign in 1980. So how did the Reagan administration do? At the end of the first quarter of 1988, federal spending accounted for 28.7% of “national income.”

    Even Ford and Carter did a better job at cutting government. Their combined presidential terms account for an increase of 1.4%—compared with Reagan’s 3%—in the government’s take of “national income.” And in nominal terms, there has been a 60% increase in government spending, thanks mainly to Reagan’s requested budgets, which were only marginally smaller than the spending Congress voted.

    The budget for the Department of Education, which candidate Reagan promised to abolish along with the Department of Energy, has more than doubled to $22.7 billion, Social Security spending has risen from $179 billion in 1981 to $269 billion in 1986. The price of farm programs went from $21.4 billion in 1981 to $51.4 billion in 1987, a 140% increase. And this doesn’t count the recently signed $4 billion “drought-relief” measure. Medicare spending in 1981 was $43.5 billion; in 1987 it hit $80 billion. Federal entitlements cost $197.1 billion in 1981—and $477 billion in 1987.

    Foreign aid has also risen, from $10 billion to $22 billion. Every year, Reagan asked for more foreign-aid money than the Congress was willing to spend. He also pushed through Congress an $8.4 billion increase in the U.S. “contribution” to the International Monetary Fund.

    His budget cuts were actually cuts in projected spending, not absolute cuts in current spending levels. As Reagan put it, “We’re not attempting to cut either spending or taxing levels below that which we presently have.”

    The result has been unprecedented government debt. Reagan has tripled the Gross Federal Debt, from $900 billion to $2.7 trillion. Ford and Carter in their combined terms could only double it. It took 31 years to accomplish the first postwar debt tripling, yet Reagan did it in eight.””

  44. @Realist

    “Realist says:
    December 24, 2019 at 7:34 pm GMT
    @bluedog
    …the republicans never saw a war they didn’t like,…

    Same for the democrats.”

    True enough, but with the Democrats it is a more intense and recent conversion to “patriotism”. They are obsessed with fighting the Russians (or rather, other people’s sons fighting the Russians).

    The unholy alliance of the DNC, CIA and main stream media will likely be the death of us all, like worms crushed beneath the burgeoning Police State.

  45. France is no longer a sovereign nation. Capital and the rich can easily move their industries out of France with no penalty (just as many major industries in America moved offshore the last 40 years to avoid labor demands and taxes). While the French strikes are symbolic and inconvenient locally, there is no support in the EU from other labor groups (who if anything are competing with French labor). Such strikes are not effective because “national” no longer matters in the EU. Short of slaughtering and maiming the neoliberals, as the neoliberals do with the poor civilians in the MidEast, Africa, Latin America, etc, there seems no good approach to solve the problem.

  46. bluedog says:
    @John Johnson

    Sadly I have to agree with you I would love to see them cut the social programs, for every x number of jobs that are shipped out of the country means another social program along with the ill-legals but they know as well as I what would happen if they did, its spelled revolution and that’s not to their liking,neither party wants to tax the wealthy for then their free lunch would be over for both/one big party depends on them for for their daily bread, so little will change regardless of all the bullshit they peddle to the people,just pucker up for now its coming.!!!

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