The chancellor Philip Hammond will take to the despatch box tomorrow to deliver his Budget.
The media will pore over the plethora of announcements made — fiddly tax changes here, growth forecast revisions there. But this short-term focus misses the real policy story of the post-crisis period. The political class is failing to address our long-term fiscal challenges, with its spending choices arbitrarily reshaping the British state while entrenching growing welfare expenditure on politically powerful groups.
This dawned on me last week when watching President Donald Trump outline the broad contours of his budget plan to the US Congress. “The Donald” wants to boost military spending by $50bn, paid for by discretionary spending cuts in a range of departments.

Though he alluded to a desire to reduce the public debt, he has committed to leave untouched its key long-term driver: entitlement programmes, such as Social Security and Medicare, which are set to become ever more expensive given an ageing population. Coupled with his wish for substantial tax reductions and largesse on infrastructure spending, the already significant 2.9 per cent of GDP federal deficit will likely widen. This will exacerbate the dire outlook for long-term debt, which is already forecast to explode unsustainably in the coming decades.