Despite bipartisan promises to cut spending after the 2010 elections, Washington politicians are still voting to make the government even bigger and more expensive than ever.
Don’t believe me?
Even though the federal government is nearly $15 trillion in debt, it’s spending at record-high levels. Federal spending has gone up 5 percent in the first nine months of this year alone.
Just last week, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate passed three new spending bills to increase 2012 funding above 2011 funding levels. The bills will increase spending for the Department of Agriculture by $6.4 billion; for the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development by more than $2 billion; and for the Commerce, Justice, and State departments by more than $694 million.
This isn’t austerity. It’s gluttony.
All the talk of cutting spending after the 2010 elections has been just that: talk. The supposedly game-changing events of the past eleven months haven’t changed much at all.
In the spring fight to avert a government shutdown, Republicans promised $100 billion in real cuts but then compromised for $38.5 billion in future savings. In reality, the Congressional Budget Office found the deal still resulted in an increase of more than $170 billion in federal spending from 2010 to 2011. The “largest spending cut in history” ended up being a spending increase.
Americans were then told the real spending cuts would come during the summer fight over the decision to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. Conservatives pushed the Cut, Cap, and Balance plan to balance the budget within ten years in exchange for increasing the legal borrowing limit. Instead of doing that, however, Democratic and Republican leadership made a compromise deal to allow President Obama to increase our national debt to nearly $17 trillion, conditioned only on the creation of a supercommittee that would produce debt-reduction recommendations by the end of the year.
But the committee isn’t really trying to cut spending. It seeks only to spend the country into bankruptcy a little slower. Rather than letting the country rack up $23.4 trillion of debt by 2021, the supercommittee hopes to keep it to $21.3 trillion. It’s the difference between speeding off a cliff at 91 miles per hour versus 100 miles per hour.