Beware — rampant government spending miscellany ahead:
- Remember when Congress passed the Dubya Squad’s $400 billion Medicare bill and then the price tag changed abruptly to $540 billion? Well, it rose again — to $724 billion, and as of , the damage stands at $1.2 trillion.
- Some legislators have had the brilliant idea of addressing the alleged “crisis” in entitlement spending (as featured in the White House talking points about Social Security) by undoing this budget-busting blunderbuss. The President, who has never seen a spending bill he didn’t sign, threatened to veto any attempt to return this junker to the shop. Which leads Radley Balko at TheAgitator to quip, “at least we can now be sure he knows he has a veto.”
- The Medicare boondoggle is only one example of the whiplash-inducing about-face on big-government spending from the Republican party. The New York Times did an analysis of the legislation supported by the “Gingrich Brigade” — that pack of Republicans who joined the House of Representatives in . Back then, most of them sponsored legislation that would cut government spending; now all but two of the remaining Brigade members are pushing bills to increase government spending. The Times includes a telling graph of the legislators and their spending habits.
- But isn’t Dubya trying to cut 150 federal government programs entirely? Sure, but Chris Edwards and Allan Reynolds note that “even if Congress passed all those cuts, spending would be reduced by less than 1%. ’s budget likewise proposed terminating 65 programs, but only five were actually ended.”
- And this claim to be halving the deficit by ? First off, since Dubya inherited a budget surplus — what’s to brag about here? Second, it’s a bald-faced lie.
- Meanwhile, stacked up against those modest cuts, even if they do materialize, is the off-budget supplemental war budget, $82 billion this year, which “exceeds the annual defense budget of every other country in the world, according to figures supplied by the Center for Defense Information. The organization says Russia, with the second-largest military budget, spends $65 billion a year.” (a lot of countries would be happy to have as much money to spend on defense as the U.S. lost track of in Iraq!)
- When you get down to brass tax, it’s a big-government, big-spending budget. And that’s nothing new: “President Bush’s previous budgets increased spending by a dramatic 33 percent in , defense spending increased by 44.7 percent while nondefense spending increased by 41.9 percent. The administration has been arguing that much of the increase in non-defense spending stemmed from higher homeland-security spending. However, the fact is that over half of all new spending in is from areas unrelated to defense and homeland security.”
- And a pricier government turns out to be a more invasive one, too: “President Bush’s agenda would expand not only the size of the federal government but also its influence over the lives of millions of Americans by imposing new national restrictions on high schools, court cases and marriages.”
- How has the Dubya Squad managed to combine tax-cutting with big spending? It hasn’t come from the promised miraculous expansion of the tax base due to a booming economy. It’s come from borrowing. But that’s run up the credit cards so high that even the tax-averse branch of conservatives are starting to wonder if they can tax the poor a bit more to avoid the pains of fiscal discipline or rescinding those nice tax cuts for the rich.