Shocking numbers from Rasmussen

60% Recognize That Government Spending Has Increased Every Year Since 1954

In 1954,the average new house cost just over $10,000, a new car was under $2,000, gasoline was under 30 cents a gallon, and you could buy a magazine for 20 cents.

That was also the last year that government spending in America declined from one year to the next. The numbers are documented in the Historical Tables of the United States budget, but a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that only 60% of Americans believe it to be true. Thirteen percent (13%) said it was false and probably assumed there must have been some year in between the government spending slipped. After all, we’re talking about years that included the tax revolt, the Reagan Revolution, the Perot movement, and Bill Clinton’s declaration that the “Era of Big Government” was over.

Thirty-one percent (31%) aren’t sure if it’s true or not. But the stark reality is that despite voting for candidates who promised lower spending and taxes in just about every election for the past half century, total government spending has kept going up every year since Bill Haley was topping the charts with Rock Around the Clock and a young singer named Elvis Presley made his first commercial recording. That’s the same year the very first edition of Sports Illustrated was published, the Milwaukee Braves welcomed Hank Aaron as a rookie, and the shot clock was invented for a new basketball league, the NBA.

Ray Kroc met the McDonald brothers to make fast food and franchising history in 1954 and the first Burger King was opened in Miami. It sold burgers and milkshakes for 18¢ each.

The Tonight Show aired for the first time in 1954 with Steve Allen as host and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings was published.

Other polling released recently showed that only a bit more than half of all voters know that the U.S. spends six times as much on defense as any other nation in the world.[LINK] Like that poll, the recognition that spending has gone up every year since Joe DiMaggio married Marilyn Monroe is spread across partisan, ideological, and demographic lines. Sixty-seven percent (67%) of Republicans recognize that it’s true along with 54% of Democrats. Fifty-nine percent (59%) of conservatives believe it and so do 54% of liberals.

The impact is staggering.

1954-2010: Comparison of Actual Government Spending With Amount Needed to Keep Pace With Population Growth Plus Inflation


(data from 2011 Federal Budget, compiled by Scott Rasmussen)

The lower line on the graph shows what would have happened if, since 1954, government spending had grown just enough to keep up with the population and inflation. If that path had been followed, government spending would have totaled approximately $1.2 trillion in 2010.

The top line shows the actual history of spending since 1954. You can see that the two lines weren’t far apart in the 1950s and early 1960s. Then, starting in the Johnson/Nixon years, government spending began to grow faster and faster. As a result, rather than spending $1.2 trillion in 2010, governments in America spent four times that amount–$5.2 trillion dollars.

All figures include federal, state, and local spending.

It’s important to note that from 1954 to 2010, Republicans controlled the White House for 34 years and Democrats for 22. Democrats controlled Congress for 44 years and the Republicans for 12. So this long-lasting spending spree was enabled on a completely bi-partisan basis.

That bi-partisan spending spree began in the year that the plane carrying the President of the United States was called Air Force One for the first time.

It was that same year that, a young woman of character and color was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama. Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on a bus launched a Civil Rights Movement that challenged our nation to live up to our highest ideals. In that same year, the U.S. Supreme Court finally declared that separate educational systems for white and black were “inherently unequal” and unconstitutional.

1954 was also the year that year France gave up its colonial ties in Indochina. Vietnam was divided with the North going to the communists and the South destined to create heartache for the United States.

Perhaps most stunning of all, the fact that 1954 was the last year to see government spending decline in America means that about eight-out-of-ten Americans living today have never been alive when government spending went down.

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