The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson writes today under the header, Austerity as a bridge to nowhere:
Voters in France, Greece and even Germany — a hotbed of the austerity cult — told their political leaders, in no uncertain terms, that boosting economic growth is more important than cutting government spending. Here in the United States, I hope that Democrats, at least, were paying attention; I fear that the addled ideologues who control the Republican Party will never get the message.
Putting a chokehold on government spending at a time when economies are just sputtering back to life — as the austerity fetishists have tried to do in Europe, and as Republicans solemnly pledge to do in the United States — is monumentally self-defeating. Governments end up magnifying the constituent parts of the economic crisis, not minimizing them.
There is just one problem with Robinson's missive: he completely ignored the tax side of the European austerity equation. The word "taxes" does not appear once in Robinson's column. Which is interesting since, as the chart below shows, taxes have risen much more than spending has dropped.
In fact, between 2010 and 2011, according to Eurostat, government spending across the EU dropped by €2.6 billion. But during that same time frame, taxes rose €235.5 billion. That is not a misprint: Europe raised taxes by almost €90 for every €1 in actual spending cuts.