With the Wyoming Legislature set to convene next month under a cloud of dismal revenue projections, we can expect plenty of creative tax increases to be trotted out. But raising revenue through taxation does nothing to decrease spending. Indeed, taxation arguably makes budget deficits worse, because the “critical” spending commitments used to justify most tax hikes (like newly invented entitlements) are predicated on perpetual increases.
A look at the federal budget shows how this happens. The feds have two basic types of spending: discretionary and mandatory. Discretionary spending is what Congress fights over in every budget bill. But mandatory spending is hard-wired into place. It is no longer subject to budgetary oversight; it gets spent no matter what. Nobody gets to amend it or specifically vote on it any more. Now here’s the kicker: 70% of all federal spending is mandatory.