June 24, 2004
Since 2001, even with record low inflation, U.S. federal spending has increased by a massive 28.8% (19.7% in real dollars)with non-defense discretionary growth of 35.7% (25.3% in real dollars)the highest rate of federal government growth since the presidencies of Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson. This increase has resulted in the largest budget deficits in U.S. history, an estimated $520 billion in fiscal year 2004 alone. Furthermore, the projected spending for 2005 is a conservative estimate, since it doesnt include at least $50 billion for the 2005 cost of the Iraq occupation.
As predicted by Independent Institute Senior Fellow Robert Higgs, author of such key books as Crisis and Leviathan and the new Against Leviathan, this explosion of government power would only have been possible in the aftermath of 9/11. Times of crisis present the easiest opportunities for politicians to take advantage of a frightened American public.
President George W. Bush is now on his way to becoming the first full-term president since John Quincy Adams (1825-1829) to not veto a single bill. The result is a congress that has been completely unconstrained in satiating its appetite for pork and corporate welfare. In response, Democratic challenger John Kerry has maligned alleged spending cuts and called for even higher taxes and spending. The consequence is that we now have two parties competing to see which can grow government faster.
From the massive increases in agricultural subsidies in the farm bill of 2002, to the new Medicare prescription drug entitlement of 2003; from the 47% increase in the defense budget, to the 80% increase in education spending, George W. Bush has demonstrated that limited government is not part of his political vocabulary.
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