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Is this non-defense federal spending or all non-defense government spending? I'm sure the basic story stays the same, but I'm guessing you're going to see considerably less of a jump if you're looking at government rather than federal spending.

"Exceptional" is exactly the word for it, I think.

And I should add... the real test is to see if it stays exceptional, or if it become unexceptional.

Sorry for three in a row... Gene Steuerle has another measure that I like a lot that you might be interested in. He calls it the "fiscal democracy index". It is the percentage of federal revenue not allocated for mandatory programs (including interest on the national debt). In other words, it is the amount of revenue that the current Congress is free to allocate itself. That has not been stable for the last several decades - it has steadily declined and it has recently gone negative.

It's the sort of tyranny of the past that Jefferson was worried about when he talked about having a reset-button every 19 years. It's not quite the same as the big government/small government thing you're looking at, but I've always found it to be an interesting measure.

That's total federal spending minus defense spending.

Of course, none of the "mandatory" programs are really mandatory. Congress can adjust any of them at will, it has done so in the past (upwards, mostly), and it will have to do it again in the future (downwards).

This is quite interesting...

http://trueslant.com/michaelpollaro/2010/05/13/america-piigs-%E2%80%9Cr%E2%80%9D-us-too/

That has not been stable for the last several decades - it has steadily declined and it has recently gone negative.

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