Are there any political parties or groups in the United States that openly support making the U.S. more like EU countries by:

  1. Addressing social welfare and safety net needs by increasing federal non-defense governmental expenditures to 19% of GDP -- compared with the approximately 12% of GDP currently used for non-defense federal expenditures.
  2. Setting federal defense expenditures at approximately 1.55% of GDP ( from 3.1% of GDP, or, a 50% decrease in the current budget)
  3. Keeping combined state and local government expenditures steady at approximately 19% of GDP.
  4. Imposing a highly progressive income and estate tax structure to pay for the increased expenditures and to lessen the income and wealth gaps in the U.S.
  • 1
    12% seems rather low. That's roughly what the federal government spends on just Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and welfare. 5% seems rather high. Perhaps you are including veteran's benefits, which might better fit as social welfare spending (albeit particularly targeted). I think that defense is about 3.6% and "federal non-defense governmental expenditures" is around 17%.
    – Brythan
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 22:32
  • 4
    You're asking for some very specific specifics there...which I think makes this question overly narrow. But yes, there are parties in general in the US that definitely push for agendas that more align with the European (specifically Scandinavian) ideas of democratic socialism.
    – user1530
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 22:44
  • 3
    You should either explain what the rationale behind those specific figures is (e.g specific sourced proposal or specific matched EU country?); or not have them so specific in the first place.
    – user4012
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 15:35
  • This might be a pain to do, but questions like this would benefit from a treemap or piechart showing the before/after budget changes.
    – agc
    Commented Jan 29, 2018 at 6:05
  • 1
    Increasing military expenditure percent of GDP would make US less like EU. Military expenditure percentages are currently lower in the EU than in US.
    – Communisty
    Commented Jan 29, 2018 at 10:22

3 Answers 3


No, such a group does not exist in the US as of 2017, or at least it doesn't have any elected representatives.

  • 6
    What about Bernie Sanders?
    – user11249
    Commented Dec 28, 2017 at 14:25
  • @Carpetsmoker Bernie Sanders does not support higher defense spending. He might want to increase non-defense expenditures by 7% of GDP, but he wouldn't want to decrease it from 30+% to 19%. 12% is a serious underestimate there.
    – Brythan
    Commented Jan 28, 2018 at 2:49

No major political party of that type exists in the United States, and so called "third-parties" are largely irrelevant in the U.S. political system, with the "Libertarian party" being the most stable right leaning third-party, and the "Green party" being the most stable left leaning third-party and the closest to the ideals espoused in the question of the four most notable parties (treating the Democratic-Farm-Labor party as merely another name for the Democratic party which is descriptively accurate).

Probably less than 1-2% of elected officials in the U.S. do not securely identify with one of the two major political parties and even those 2% usually caucus with one or the other major political parties for organizational purposes in legislative bodies. Probably less than 2-3% of the popular vote (and 0% of the electoral vote) goes to third-parties although sometimes the third-party vote will swing a race towards the major political party least aligned with that third-party.

There is a faction within the Democratic party (which is a minority of both elected officials and rank and file Democratic party voters), commonly called "progressives" that favors something significantly closer to these policies than the status quo.

This said, no major political party or major faction within a major political party, and few third-parties anywhere in the political spectrum, really care how spending is allocated between the federal government and the state government apart from short-term policy gains. Policy preferences are always more important than federalism concerns in American politics.

A sub-faction within the "progressive" faction of the Democratic party (and spilling into self-identified Democratic Socialists and Greens, outside the Democratic party) do favor policies quite similar to the ones described.


Imposing a highly progressive tax income and estate tax structure to pay for the increased expenditures and to lessen the income and wealth gaps in the U. S.

If you look at actual tax revenues, the United States system is more progressive than other countries. Estate taxes in particular are already one of the highest tax rates in the US, and at 40% only five points behind the European leader (France). The top US rate is the fourth highest among OECD countries. The effective rate is 0% for poorer and most middle class people.

Similarly, the US gets 100% of its income tax revenues from about 50-55% of the people and 0% of its income tax revenues from the other 45-50%. Or the top 1% pay 45% of income taxes.

The CBO said that the average federal income tax rate paid by the top 1 percent has also dropped since 1979—falling from 22.7 percent in 1979 to 20.3 percent in 2011.

That's noteworthy because the 1979 tax rates are generally regarded as more progressive than the ones in 2011. The top rate has dropped from 70% in 1979 to 39.6% in 2011, but revenues increased. And in neither case did the effective tax rate come anywhere close to the nominal rate.

Progressive tax "rates" are not the main source of higher tax revenues. There may be reasons to do this, but tax revenues are not one of them.

Looking at other countries, the most successful method of increasing tax revenue has been to increase it on the middle class. While individually they have less money, there are more of them and they are less able to adjust to taxes via use of tax shelters. For example, Value-Added Taxes are almost universal in Europe.

All that said, political parties do not have to be realistic in their policy.

Democrats advocate increased tax rates, particularly on those with higher incomes.

Addressing social welfare and safety net needs by increasing federal non-defense governmental expenditures to 19% of GDP

The Democrats push for increasing social welfare and safety net spending. I don't know about a specific percentage of GDP. Republicans are mostly the status quo party on domestic spending, although some advocate decreases.

Keep combined state and local government expenditures steady at approximately 19% of GDP.

This is more consistent with the Democratic position, but they don't say it that way. At the state and local levels, they often advocate additional spending. But this is in part a reaction to the lack of spending by the federal government.

It's hard to have this kind of position on local spending in the US, as different politicians control spending at each of the five levels (federal, state, county, municipal, schools). The closest rhetoric is the argument that more federal spending would mean less of a need for more state and local spending.

Setting federal defense expenditures at approximately 5% of GDP ( a 10%+ increase)

Republicans push for increased defense spending. Note that 5% would be closer to a 50% increase than a 10% increase from 2016 levels. Democrats are mostly the status quo party on defense spending, although some advocate cuts.

Neither Democrats nor Republicans push for both those things at the same time. During the 1980s, this was actually the kind of deal that they made. More defense spending for Republicans and always increasing social spending for Democrats, combined with borrowing to replace tax revenues. But since the end of the Cold War, there has been less support for such deals.

As far as I know, none of the minor parties do either. Most third parties advocate a smaller military. This includes the Libertarians, the Greens, the Justice Party, and the Constitution party. The Greens advocate increased social spending and taxes, but the other two advocate decreased social spending and taxes. The Reform Party and the Modern Whig party support fiscal discipline, generally including less social spending. The Modern Whig party advocates for more defense spending.

As far as I can tell, there is no serious third party that wants to increase defense and social spending. Many want to increase one or the other. Some want to decrease both.

  • 8
    -1 for the first paragraph, it just doesn't make sense to me. Comparisons have to proceed from the (nominal or effective) tax rates for a given bracket/income, the fact that a given share of revenue comes from the richest doesn't make a system progressive. Also, it mostly reflects the fact that the super-rich are really really rich in the US, even more so than in other developed countries.
    – Relaxed
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 5:41
  • 4
    I also note that you are not even trying to compare the US to other countries, you compare the estate tax to other US taxes and give no indication of the relevant proportions of income tax revenues elsewhere, how is that relevant to the question at hand? (Are we talking only about federal income tax here, by the way?)
    – Relaxed
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 5:43
  • @Relaxed gregmankiw.blogspot.com/2011/03/…
    – Ege Erdil
    Commented Jan 28, 2018 at 20:31

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