Center for American Progress

Infographic: ‘60s Retro Budget Plan by Republicans Unfit for Today

Infographic: ‘60s Retro Budget Plan by Republicans Unfit for Today

Gutting Federal Spending to 1966 Levels Is Untenable

Sarah Ayres and Michael Linden compare the new Republican plan to cut the federal deficit to 18 percent of GDP to putting a 1966 transmission into a 2012 Mustang.

Download the infographic (pdf)

The Republican-led House of Representatives this week will consider legislation that would effectively endorse restricting federal spending to the arbitrary level of 18 percent of gross domestic product. That would require the slashing of important and popular programs far below even the draconian levels of the 2012 budget approved by the House earlier this year. The United States would be the lowest-spending economically advanced country in the world.

The last time the United States had spending this low was in 1966. Much has changed since then, which makes a federal budget at that level both impractical and undesirable. We are an older country, with more retirees receiving the Social Security and Medicare benefits they’ve earned during their working lives. Social Security benefits have been consciously increased to improve the quality of life for retirees. Health care costs have multiplied so providing Medicare, veterans’ care, and Medicaid is much more expensive. Education has become more costly, and government fuel costs have risen along with everyone else’s.

We are a very different country than we were back then, with very different needs and with stronger economic competitors making investments in their own countries to make themselves strong. We must match those investments to remain the No. 1 economy and the most competitive nation on earth. We simply can’t put a 1966 transmission into a 2012 Mustang.

charticle graphic

Sarah Ayres is a Research Associate and Michael Linden is Director of Tax and Budget Policy at American Progress.

Download the infographic (pdf)


“Annual Statistical Supplement: 2010,” available at

“Average Energy Prices in the Washington-Baltimore Area – April 2011,” available at

Bureau of the Census, Age and Sex Composition: 2010 (Department of Commerce, 2011), available at

“Census of the Population: 1960,” available at

“Current-dollar and ‘real’ GDP,” available at

“Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplements,” available at

“Digest of Education Statistics 2010,” available at

“GDP Indicator,” available at

“Historical National Population Estimates,” available at

“History of Federal Minimum Wage Rates Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 1938 – 2009,” available at

“Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey,” available at

“Life Expectancy at Birth Indicator,” available at

“National Health Expenditures by type of service and source of funds, CY 1960-2009,” available at

“State & County Quickfacts,” available at

U.S. Census, “U.S. Census Bureau Announces 2010 Census Population Counts — Apportionment Counts Delivered to President,” News release, December 21, 2010, available at

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.


Michael Linden

Managing Director, Economic Policy