Congress this week threw away seven years of earnest attempts to rein in government spending, and said loud and clear, "Big government is here to stay."
To be fair, Congress was never really that into the idea of chopping spending.
In a move that now appears to be more anti-Obama than pro-fiscal restraint, Republicans in 2011 set up an automatic system of chopping discretionary spending, known as the sequester. If spending got too high, automatic cuts would happen.
But in 2012, Congress voted to return some of that spending. And in 2013, they removed even more of the cuts. And in 2015, they added back even more money.
Clearly, their hearts weren't in it. But even with these changes, some spending was held in check.
Defense spending went from $518 billion in 2013 to $551 billion in 2017. Nondefense spending went from $484 billion to $519 billion in the same time period.
Increases, yes, but pretty modest.
Well, forget it. With a Republican in the White House, whatever's left of the Republican Party decided this week that it's OK for the government to be a big-time spender as long as it's run by Republicans.
The two-year budget deal announced Wednesday would increase spending over the next two years by almost $300 billion, all unpaid for.
It cancels $108 billion in planned defense cuts. It adds more than $50 billion in new security spending. It cancels $74 billion in nondefense cuts, and adds even more money for domestic priorities.
A chart from Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., shows just how much bigger this latest shift away from the sequester is compared to prior efforts.
By 2019, the government will be spending $78 billion more on defense than it did last year, and about the same amount more on domestic spending.
Not to mention the tax cut, which most agree will add another $1 trillion to the debt over the next decade. And don't forget the decision to eliminate the debt ceiling for a year, which will allow unrestrained borrowing.
Amash and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., are among the few who worry about the debt, and what might happen to the U.S. as it approaches a debt that's equal to the size of U.S. GDP.
They worry that what happened to Greece could happen to us: We have a debt crisis, can't fund programs that millions depend on, and sink forever in a sea of IOUs that strangles growth for generations.
But they're outnumbered by most other Republicans, who only fear the debt when they want to prevent Democrats from doing anything, and most Democrats, who only cite the debt as an argument against GOP tax cuts.
Paul outlined this basic problem in a Senate floor speech Thursday night: The debt's only natural enemy is the minority party, which is powerless to do anything about it.
But the debt will rise, and keep rising, until it's no longer an accounting issue, but a stifling problem that chokes growth and defines the age.
For about half a decade, the U.S. allowed for a slower rate of growth in discretionary federal spending, starting from a record high level of outlays that had never been seen before in the history of the world.
Our politicians called that "austerity." Let's hope we don't learn the real meaning of the word.