Wednesday, September 10, 2008

It's The Spending Stupid

One of the funniest claims (they make hilarious clams as well) made by Democrats is that instead of investing (a nice euphemism for spending) in education, infrastructure, and social programs, President Bush has given away tax cuts to his rich cronies and squandered a good chunk of the federal budget on unnecessary wars. And then, he hasn't even had the decency to take care of the veterans whose lives he has destroyed!

An editorial in today's WSJ called The Spending Explosion lays out the real numbers.

The real news in yesterday's Congressional Budget Office semiannual report is that federal expenditures on everything from roads to homeland security to health care will on present trends reach 21.5% of GDP next year. That's a larger share of national output than at anytime since 1992. If the cost of the federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac prove to be large and are taken into account, next year federal outlays could be higher as a share of the economy than at anytime since World War II. In this decade alone, federal spending has increased by almost $1.2 trillion, or 57%.

Well sure, say the Dems, that's because of all the money wasted on the failed wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Another myth is that the war on terror has busted the budget. While operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are expensive, defense spending is $605 billion this year, or about 4.5% of GDP. That only seems large by comparison to the holiday from history of the 1990s, when defense fell to 3% of GDP. As recently as 1986, defense spending was 6.2% of GDP.

But the deficit, the real problem is the deficit.

The federal deficit is expected to hit $407 billion for fiscal 2008 (which ends at the end of this month) and $438 billion next year. Still, the deficit is expected to be only 3% of GDP, which is in line with the average of the last 30 years.

But the tax cuts for the rich...

The Bush tax cuts also aren't the budget problem. Until this year federal tax collections have been surging. In the four years after the 2003 tax cuts become law, tax receipts exploded by $785 billion. This year revenues have declined by 0.8%, but a major reason is the $150 billion bipartisan tax rebate that has hit the Treasury without spurring the economy.

So what's the problem then?

The real runaway train is what CBO calls a "substantial increase in spending" that is "on an unsustainable path." That's for sure. The nearby chart shows how much some federal accounts have expanded since 2001, and in inflation-adjusted dollars. This year alone, federal agencies have lifted their spending by 8.1%, with another 7% raise expected for 2009. There's certainly no recession in Washington. The CBO says that, merely in the two years that Democrats have run Congress, federal expenditures are up $429 billion -- to $3.158 trillion.

Before we get to the chart, let's take a look at some of the specific areas. Again, these increases are in INFLATION-ADJUSTED DOLLARS from 2001-2008.

We all know that:

The only way to improve education is to finally start investing in our schools and teachers.

* Education spending increased 57%

The anti-science Bush administration outsourced research to private industry.

* Health research increased 55%

The Bush administration has shamefully turned their back on our veterans.

* Veterans benefits increased 58%

The Bush administration doesn't want the government to help pay for anyone's health care.

* Medicare spending up 51%

The Bush administration doesn't care about America's hard hit communities.

* Community development spending up 91%

Now, I have no idea what "community development" spending even is. I assume that community organizers have a hand in there somewhere.

Yes, defense spending has increased 64%. But considering the cuts made in the Nineties and the threats we now face today, that seems like a reasonable increase.

The areas where the Bush administration really held the line on spending are:

* Highways and mass transit up 22%

* Social security up 17%

* Energy up 16%

Of course those increases only seem small compared with the ridiculous increases in all the other areas of federal spending.

So when Democrats falsely claim that President Bush hasn't "invested" in these areas, what they're really saying is that if you think federal spending in the Bush administration was bloated, you ain't seen nuthin' yet.

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