Robert Knight

What with the bailouts, the stimulus, and now the government health care takeover, we’re being told that we face $1 trillion annual deficits for the indefinite future, with a $12 trillion to $20 trillion debt by 2020. In February, Congress raised the federal debt limit to $14.3 trillion. That’s bad.

But it’s only the beginning. Does anyone seriously think the current spending binge is all we can expect from this Porky Pig Congress? Programs are sprouting like crabgrass. The horrifying numbers we are now hearing about future deficits reflect projections of existing program spending. They do not count the inevitable spending that will flow from all the yet-to-be unleashed goodies that Congress and Obama have in their hip pockets.

Federal programs grow like Paul Bunyan and live far beyond their usefulness. There is simply no incentive to cut programs or staff, which would signal loss of power and prestige. Government managers face no profit motive or expectant stockholders. Businesses and households cut back if they overspend. The government just comes up with more ways to tax us, and in increasingly sneaky fashion. Have you looked at your phone bill lately? Who stuck all those esoteric charges there, with such names as “federal connection fee” or “Fred the bureaucrat’s lakefront retirement home fund?”

But let’s get back to the big stuff. The “doc fix” to restore physicians’ fees in Medicare that are artificially low and have been restored annually since 1997 will cost $200 billion over the next 10 years. This was not in the health care bill (what do doctors have to do with health care?) so Congress could pretend the massive bill will actually cut the deficit.

The health bill alone is expected to create upwards of 159 new agencies. And then there are the three elephants in the room: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, each of which is projected to break the Baby Boomer Bank in just a few years with unfunded liabilities in the trillions.

Will this tsunami of deficit spending staunch the congressional habit of creating new programs? Ha. And ha ha. You are such a child.

Let’s take short trip into Federal Program Land, which is in Washington, D.C., whose posh suburbs are exploding with tax-derived wealth from the rest of the nation.

In 1997, the Heritage Foundation produced a list of the Top 10 obsolete federal programs. The No. 1 federal boondoggle? The Economic Development Administration, which, Heritage scholar Scott Hodge noted, “duplicates the activities of at least 62 other community development programs. The EDA will spend $350 million this year to spur local economic growth. Yet a recent GAO study found the EDA had no impact at all. Zippo.”

Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.