February 12, 2008
A Budget ValentineBy Christopher Chantrill
OK, conservatives, now that the race for the presidential nomination of the Republican Party is all over bar shouting, as my grandfather used to say, let's get back to more serious topics.
Let's talk about the federal budget.
What's that? You have to go get your wife a present for Valentine's Day--right now?
That's a pity because the Budget of the United States Government for Fiscal Year 2009 that President Bush sent to Congress last week is quite a piece of work. But Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) does not think of it exactly as a Valentine. Instead he in outraged, and he's threatened to ignore it until a Democratic president is inaugurated next year.
I can understand why Senator Reid wants to forget all about the budget. If you look at the numbers, it's pretty sobering. Spending is going through the roof. The best way to get a handle on that is to compare the estimate for FY 2009 spending made in the president's budget last week with the numbers President Bush sent up four years ago in February 2004.
What's that you say? It's too hard? Not at usgovernmentspending.com. You can flick from the FY05 budget to the FY09 budget with the click of a mouse.
Back in February 2004 the president estimated FY 2009 federal spending at $2.854 trillion. Last week he estimated FY 2009 spending at $3.107 trillion. That's an increase of $253 billion.
Are you following me? Four years ago the president reckoned that the federal government would be spending about 19.0 percent of GDP in the first year of the Clinton-Obama-McCain administration. Now he says that--oops--the feds will be spending 8.8 percent more in the first year of the next administration, a whopping 20.7 percent of GDP.
And that's before we start talking about universal health care.
No wonder Harry Reid is so upset.
Of course, all these facts are available at the click of a mouse at usgovernmentspending.com. You could easily take a look while shopping on-line for your wife's Valentine's Day present.
Indeed, while you early bird on-line Valentine's Day shoppers were ordering wifely presents a week ago, the crack developers at usgovernmentspending.com were updating its vast array of database servers with the new information from the president's budget from Table 3.2 - Outlays by Function and Subfunction: 1962-2013. Hours after the president published the budget the numbers were up and running on usgovernmentspending.com.
As a result of this timely action we can now identify how it came to be that the president was so wrong when he estimated FY 2009 federal spending four years ago. Here are the two big culprits:
Defense (including veterans and foreign affairs): up from 4.0% to 5.4% GDP.
Federal government pensions (including Social Security): up from 4.8% to 5.1% GDP.
Interestingly enough, some areas of the federal budget are down in terms of GDP.
Health care (principally Medicare and Medicaid): down from 5.0% to 4.7% of GDP
Interest expense: down from 2.0% to 1.7% of GDP.
We are dealing in percent of GDP here because usgovernmentspending.com allows you to flick between millions and billions and percent GDP at the click of a mouse.
You can see why Harry Reid doesn't want to do his sworn duty and deal with the appropriations process as provided by law. He doesn't want to sign off on the huge increases in defense spending that President Bush has put into the federal budget.
We've seen this sort of thing before.
Back in 1992 Candidate Clinton promised Americans a middle-class tax cut. But after the election the president-elect changed his tune. There wouldn't be a middle-class tax cut after all. "I never worked harder on anything my whole life than I did that middle class tax cut," he told us as he raised our taxes.
In 1992 Democrats wanted to keep the middle class on-side. In 2008 Democrats want to keep their anti-war supporters on-side. They can't be seen endorsing the president's belated admission that the years of the "peace dividend" are over, that the defense budget has to go up, and that the next Democratic president will not, after all, retreat from Iraq. Not until 2009.
Meanwhile the spending goes on. It's not just the federal government, you know. Spending at all levels of government in 2009 is likely to add up to about $5.4 trillion. Here are the numbers, including federal, state, and local spending, all from usgovernmentspending.com:
Health Care: $979.8
Whatever our Democratic friends may say, the cost of evil neo-con global warmongering pales in comparison to the trillions we spend every year on government pensions, government healthcare, government education, and government welfare.
And all those trillions of hard-earned taxpayer dollars aren't sluicing through the government coffers because of evil neo-cons, or evil corporate welfare fatcats, or even evil fundamentalist theocrats. They are sluicing away because liberal Democrats diverted the clear upland streams of private sector wealth generation and channeled them into turbid alluvial outwash fans of government social programs.
On a lighter note, here is a Valentine's Day tip. Don't just give your wife a big bouquet on Valentine's Day. Instead, make sure to stop by the supermarket every evening from now until February 14 and buy your wife some flowers. As a bonus, buy her flowers for two or three days after Valentine's Day. Women love being deluged with little presents. They just love it. All of them.