True or false: Total U.S. government spending has increased in every single year since 1954.

Answer: True, despite a number of well-intended efforts at reform.

According to a new Rasmussen Reports analysis, total government expenditures in the U.S.-comprised of federal, state, and local spending figures-have seen 57 consecutive years of growth. This startling fact means that “roughly eight-out-of-10 Americans living today have never been alive when government spending went down.”

When compared to population and inflation adjusted spending figures, the actual growth in government spending is even more striking.

As noted in the chart below, actual government spending in the U.S. for 2010, represented by the blue line, totals roughly $5.2 trillion dollars. However, had overall government spending been limited to the growth in population and inflation since 1954, then the tab for today’s federal, state, and local government spending would be a much more palatable $1.2 trillion, depicted as the red line below.

Needless to say, our current government spending trajectory, at all levels, is simply not sustainable.

-James Quintero