Monday, January 23, 2006

Government Spending is Out of Control

Writing for the Christian Science Monitor, Patrick Chisolm points out that the leftist goal of massive redistribution of wealth continues unabated even as the Republicans control congress and the presidency. He has some interesting numbers, which I’d like to share.

From 2001-2006, nondefense discretionary spending has increased 27.9%
In Clinton’s first five years, it only increased 1.9%

In the 1960s, welfare and entitlements accounted for 33% of government spending
Now, they account for 60%
In a few decades, they will account for 75%

In the 1960s, Defense spending accounted for 45% of the budget.
Now, it’s 17%
Health and Human Services receives 25% of the budget (compared to 3% in the ‘60s)

What does all this mean? Well, for one, it didn’t take the Republicans long to completely abandon the notion of fiscal restraint. Since 2001, they been spending like Paris Hilton on a drunken night in Vegas.

For another, it’s clear that we as Americans love our entitlements. Oh we may not want to give our hard-earned money to someone else, but we’ll gladly take a government check of our own. That’s why the federal government is spending more and more of its time serving as the transporter of money from one group to another. Those who receive entitlements are apt to fight a lot harder to keep them than those who pay for the entitlements are apt to fight against them.

Problem is, it’s not sustainable. You don’t need an economics degree to see that. Unless we reign in our spending, we’re in for a lot of hurt. But we don’t need to look at this from an ideological point-of-view. Talking about the leftist desire to redistribute wealth might be intellectually engaging but it’s politically meaningless.

There’s no need to worry about abandoning entitlements and welfare. That would be impossible and not even all that well-advised. Instead, we just need to constrain spending. Ross Perot made fiscal restraint a salient issue just 14 years ago. Another smart, populist voice could do the same again.

In the meantime, those of us who care about fiscal responsibility need to keep harping on the issue. Only by keeping it in the public sphere of debate can we hope to stop the mad spending spree of our government.

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