Skip to comments.Washington's $782 Billion Spending Spree
Posted on 12/06/2002 7:41:37 AM PST by Stand Watch Listen
Summary: Politicians who want to spend even more money are telling taxpayers that its time to sacrifice. To which taxpayers should reply: You first.
If we dont reaffirm our commitment to fiscal responsibility, years of hard work could be squandered, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan recently told Congress. Considering the ever-climbing spending levels on Capitol Hill these days, his warning makes perfect sense.
It didnt used to be this way. In the mid-1990s, politicians began cutting wasteful government spending to balance the budget and bring relief to overtaxed families. Since 2000, however, things have changed, with almost-daily reports of yet another record spending increase from Congress.
With the 2003 federal budget almost done, theres now a price tag for this 2000-2003 spending spree: $782 billion in new spending. Not $782 billion in total spending, mind you, but $782 billion above what Washington spent in the previous four years. Eventually, taxes will need to be raised by more than $5,000 per household to pay for it. With the exception of World War II, on a per-household basis, 2000-2003 will become the largest four-year federal spending spree in American history.
How did Congress and the president do it? Did they carefully assess the nations needs and then decide that one or two national priorities were worth an extra $782 billion? No. Its a classic case of death by a thousand blows -- record spending increases for dozens of programs, none by itself fatal but collectively lethal. Its what happens when undisciplined policymakers refuse to set priorities or say no to special interests.
Many lawmakers have tried to blame Sept. 11th-related defense spending. But new defense spending represents just 21 percent of the $782 billion total spending increase, and less than a quarter of that increase can be attributed directly to the war on terrorism.
Others finger big-ticket entitlements such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, claiming that theyre growing uncontrollably. However, these programs budgets havent grown any faster over the last four years than they did over the past two decades.
In fact, there is no way to explain or excuse the general pattern of persistent fiscal recklessness one finds in the federal budget. Over the past four years, Washington has heard calls for massive spending increases for numerous programs: farm subsidies, highways, education, healthcare, defense, homeland security, you name it. Had policymakers limited the hikes to one or two priorities, they could have controlled costs. Instead, they threw vast sums of money at all of these programs. The result: an unaffordable guns and butter budget.
Congress and the president couldnt say no even to the lowest-priority programs. Few taxpayers can claim the Denali Commission (an Alaskan public-works program) enriches their lives. But Washington increased its four-year budget from $1 million to $169 million. How much of a national priority is the Bureau of Export Administration? The Maritime Administration? The Foreign Agriculture Service? Most Americans have never heard of these obsolete agencies, yet Congress and the president bumped each of their four-year budgets by more than 70 percent.
From 2000-2003, Washington had a rare opportunity to save the average household nearly $2,500 in taxes without reducing any federal services. After 50 years of steady increases, interest payments on the national debt declined by $247 billion from 2000 to 2003, thanks to the balanced budgets of the 1990s. Like the post-Cold War peace dividend, Congress and the president got a once-in-a-lifetime interest dividend of $247 billion.
And they squandered every penny.
They allocated all $247 billion to new spending, and when that money ran out, spent $782 billion more. Thats $1.029 trillion in new non-interest spending in just four years -- the largest increase since World War II.
More seems to be on the way. Congress and the president may spend as much as $600 billion over eight years for prescription drugs. Senators have endorsed a 600 percent increase for Amtrak. The House of Representatives passed legislation doubling the National Science Foundations budget. The Senate is in the process of adding $6 billion in farm subsidies, despite this years enactment of a record $180 billion farm bill. No one is proposing rolling back any of the 2000-2003 spending increases to pay for these new priorities.
Recession-weary policymakers may think this new spending will help the economy by injecting money into it. But they forget that every dollar the government spends must first be taxed or borrowed. The $5,000 per-household tax hike that will follow this spending spree cant help but discourage the extra working, saving and investing we need to jumpstart our economy.
Politicians who want to spend even more money are telling taxpayers that its time to sacrifice. To which taxpayers should reply: You first.
You will see Bush proposing balanced budgets through the rest of his term, and with a Republican congress it might just happen.
"The surest way to bust this economy is to increase the role and the size of the federal government."
George W. Bush - Source: Presidential debate, Boston MA Oct 3, 2000.
How come this thread doesn't have 300 replies, Uncle Bill?
Thank goodness Bush is giving the SEC .85 billion dollars to keep an eye on evil corporations. But nobody needs to keep an eye on the government. We can trust them. And in related news, the accounting oversight board voted themselves half million dollar salaries. There's a new tone in Washington.
They looked at what votes were for sale and then how much they could pay for them with other people's money.
Its a classic case of death by a thousand blows -- record spending increases for dozens of programs, none by itself fatal but collectively lethal.
A billion here, a billion there. Before you know it, that adds up to real money.
Under Ronald Reagan the federal outlay went up 7 out of 8 years. The US went over 200 Billion in debt under Reagan.
test: Was Reagan a Conservative?
Spending Bill to Test Senate GOP - Thursday, January 16, 2003
"Republican senators, who hope to use their new majority status to enact the president's agenda, yesterday began trying to clear a major obstacle: a mammoth, more than $400 billion spending package...The spending bill, among the largest in memory, will determine this year's funding levels for homeland security, education, drought relief for farmers, Medicare payments to doctors and the budgets of scores of federal agencies. Republicans have vowed to pass it quickly, as proof that GOP control of Congress can overcome the bickering that stalled dozens of initiatives last year.
But even as Republicans brought the measure to the Senate floor late yesterday, it was clear that the tight fiscal constraints ordered by the White House,..."
"tight fiscal constraints ordered by the White House." Tight fiscal constraints? Hahahahaha. LOL!
Shocking, just shocking. Thank goodness the Republicans are "winning."
The GOP should be ashamed. (And this thread should have 1000 replies by now, though I'm not surprised it doesn't.)
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