Cato Institute: Budget Disaster Looming
The Cato Institute has the following on their front page,
Budget Disaster Looming
At a briefing last week, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay declared an “ongoing victory” against bloated federal spending. Congress passed $62 billion of spending for Hurricane Katrina relief that will push the deficit back up to the $400 billion range. When asked whether Katrina relief should be offset with budget savings elsewhere, DeLay said “bring me the offsets, I’ll be glad to do it.”
Cato Institute scholars Steve Slivinski and Chris Edwards have the offsets that the majority leader is looking for. They have compiled $62 billion in spending cuts that would offset Katrina relief in the short-term and create savings to reduce the federal deficit over the long-term. (Graphic)
The graphic lists the cuts and the rationale for each cut. The cuts are targeted at business subsidies, welfare for the well-to-do such as farm subsidies, and activities that should be funded by states and the private sector. The cuts would not affect programs for the poor, and thus could get support from reform-minded Democrats. Many of the cuts were proposed, but not realized, by House Republicans in the 1990s.
Slivinski and Edwards think that Mr. DeLay needs to sit down and reexamine the federal budget. DeLay said “after 11 years of Republican majority we’ve pared it down pretty good.” Yet total federal spending, aside from interest, has increased 79 percent since 1995 — much greater than the inflationary increase in prices since 1995 of 28 percent. The budget has certainly not been “pared down” by the Republicans.
In a piece for Friday’s Newsday, Slivinski writes: “There’s no reason why money spent on natural-disaster relief should not compete with spending in other areas of government. If the relief spending is truly more necessary than other programs in the budget, then those less essential programs should be pared back to make room for it. Congress does not seem concerned about how the federal government (read: taxpayers) is going to pay for any of this. Yet now is exactly the time to figure that out. Charity does require sacrifice, even from big-spending politicians using other people’s money for charitable purposes.”
Chris Edwards weighed-in on Monday, with a piece in the Washington Times: “Today the GOP needs to rally behind new fiscal leaders and a new blueprint for reform, akin to the 1994 Contract with America. House conservatives have a new plan in the “Family Budget Protection Act” and they have new leaders such as Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona. What they need is for party leaders, such as Mr. DeLay, to embrace the new generation of reformers and put their ideas front and center in Republican policymaking. Republicans need to look back to the 1990s to appreciate that budget cuts can be a winning strategy. And they need to look forward to realize complacency is no longer an option. Huge Katrina expenses, continued Iraq spending and rising entitlement costs means now is the time to launch a new Republican budget revolution.”
This further highlights that the era of big government is here to stay and those ushering it in are the Republicans. It should be clear that Republicans in general are no longer interested in reducing the size of government. There is quite a bit of fat to cut in the federal budget. Add on top of this huge spending programs like the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan and it is obvious that Bush and Republicans do not have a problem expanding the size of government to unprecedented levels.