The problem is that much of government today is on autopilot, based on social conditions and spending priorities that date back decades. I’m talking about when Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, and John Kennedy were in the White House. The fact is, the Cold War is over, the baby boomers are about to retire, and globalization is affecting everything from foreign policy to international trade to public health.
Unfortunately, once federal programs or agencies are created, the tendency is to fund them in perpetuity. This is what I mean when I say our government is on autopilot. Washington rarely seems to question the wisdom of its existing commitments. Instead, it simply adds new programs and initiatives on top of the old ones. As President Ronald Reagan once quipped, a government program is “the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.” This is a key reason our government has grown so large and so expensive.