Les leçons tirées du mur budgétaire

CAMBRIDGE – Une des nombreuses choses que j'ai apprises de Milton Friedman est que le coût réel d'un gouvernement provient de ses dépenses, pas de ses impôts. Autrement dit, les dépenses sont financées par les impôts courants ou par le biais d'emprunts, et le montant de l'emprunt s'élève aux impôts futurs qui ont presque le même impact sur les performances économiques que les impôts courants.

Nous pouvons appliquer ce raisonnement au déficit budgétaire non viable aux États-Unis. Comme chacun sait, ce déficit exige moins de dépenses, ou plus d'impôts.

Le point de vue conventionnel est qu'une approche raisonnable et équilibrée comporte un peu de chaque. Mais comme Friedman l'aurait soutenu, les deux méthodes doivent être considérées comme diamétralement opposées. Moins de dépenses signifie que le gouvernement sera plus petit. Plus d'impôts signifie que le gouvernement sera plus grand. Par conséquent ceux qui favorisent les gouvernements plus petits (par exemple, certains Républicains) voudront traiter le déficit entièrement par une réduction des dépenses, tandis que ceux qui préfèrent les plus grands gouvernements (par exemple, le président Barack Obama et la plupart des Démocrates) voudront traiter le déficit entièrement par une augmentation des impôts.

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