The urge to spend

The cycle works like this: In times of general prosperity, governments accumulate more money from taxes than they need to support existing services.   Politicians spend the surplus and more on new services to curry favor with voters. Prosperity inevitably gives way to distress, the base of taxation shrinks, and government revenues decline. The government finds itself unable to pay for all the services to which it has committed itself from current revenues and increases its borrowing to cover expenses. Alarmed by deficit budgets, officials confront a choice: Raise revenue or cut services. Finding services difficult to trim, officials focus on revenue, which becomes a euphemism for ta...

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