Those numbers in the title all represent years in which serious attempts were made to amend the US constitution so as to make a balanced federal budget a legal requirement*. That these attempts failed isn’t surprising. None the less it is inspiring that efforts continue to be made. In Australia there is no political will notable anywhere that would put in place such a constraint. We don’t even have such a constraint at the state level whilst in the USA it is very common at the state level.
Meanwhile a constitutional clause that caps per capita tax revenue at a fixed real dollar amount, unless revised by the citizens through a referendum, would put a handbreak on growth in tax financed government spending. This is what they call TABOR in Colorado where it has been in operation since 1992. To be effective I think TABOR needs some sort of legal remedy. If actual tax revenues do exceed the cap by a given proportion then taxpayers (citizens and corporations) should be able to claim a equivalent proportion off their tax liabilities for the year.
i) Mandatory balanced budgets – to stop out of control borrowing.
ii) TABOR – to stop out of control taxation
Sadly I think that without constitutional constraints such as these bigger government by autopilot is somewhat inevitable. With them in place I think liberal democracy could look forward to a very long life.
* One disappointing aspect in the proposed US reforms were the exemptions granted during times of war. Whilst this might on the face of it seem quite reasonably I suspect that in practice it would simply increase the government incentive for war.