Tom Schaller at 538 has posted this great analysis of how low our government spending is as a percentage of GDP — and how skewed some folks’ view is of that number.
America isn’t the lowest, but we are fifth lowest and our share (28 percent, which includes state/local taxes) is 20 percent lower than the OECD average of about 35 percent.
…Goldberg says he “bring[s] this up because many in the Democratic Party and in the news media have a hard time understanding what the ‘Tea Party’ crowd is talking about when it complains of incipient tyranny and intrusive government.” Yes, many of us do, including that uber-Democratic media maven and former Reaganite Bruce Bartlett, who surveyed tea partiers and discovered they have no idea what the true tax burden in the country is. Their average response for what share of GDP goes into the (federal) public sector was 42 percent–more than twice what it actually is.
So, conceptually, this would be like asking a pack of tea partiers who by chance met Kareem Abdul Jabbar during one of their Washington rallies to estimate his height, and their average answer came back “14 feet tall.”