Even though faced with declining tax receipts and increased borrowing, lawmakers and President Barack Obama have ramped up federal spending -- and not just temporary spending. They intend to make this year’s big increases permanent. Washington will shell out almost $34,000 per household in 2009. That’s $8,000 per household more than it spent last year. President Obama’s proposed 2010 budget would replace many “temporary” spending programs with officially permanent ones, meaning that by 2019 (when, presumably, this recession will be over and the economy will have enjoyed some years of growth) the federal government would still spend $33,000 per household.
That number ignores any spending that might be caused by the president’s attempts to reform health care. Should his administration succeed in creating a “public option” health plan, the government could be on the hook for trillions more.
It’s always difficult to make accurate long-term projections, of course, since so much can change during any decade. But all the experts -- the Congressional Budget Office, think tank economists and even the White House -- agree that our country’s deficit will be massive in 2019.
Overspending isn’t a partisan issue. Discretionary spending -- the money Congress chooses to spend (in contrast to entitlement programs, which are on autopilot) -- has increased 74 percent faster than inflation since 2001. That means a Republican congress and a Republican president signed off on massive voluntary spending increases, year after year. No wonder Republicans have lost their brand.
When President Bush flew home to Texas this year, he left behind a $1,186 billion budget deficit. That was bad enough. But President Obama’s policies have made that situation even worse. In just a few months, his administration tacked another $659 billion on to that amount. The fiscal year ends Sept. 30.
And plenty of this spending is simple waste.
Government auditors have combed through several recent budgets and found that one fifth of federal programs fail to improve life for the groups they’re supposed to be serving. That’s at least $123 billion wasted, every year.
The Government Accounting Office found that almost half the purchases made with federal credit cards are improper. How about cancelling those cards? And at least $2 billion in spending for Hurricane Katrina has been stolen, with federal largesse used to buy NFL tickets, champagne bottles and at least one sex-change operation.
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