Government Spending

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27 — "The budget that President Bush will send to Congress a week from Monday strays far from the agenda of small government and fiscal conservatism that the administration advocated on taking office a year ago. It will propose a spending increase of around 9 percent for next year, more than any big-government Democrat would dare to put on the table." http://www.nytimes.com/2002/01/28/politics/28BUDG.html

The tax and spend Democrats want to squander your money and the Republicans believe in smaller government. This blatant lie has been a crucial part of the Republican Party's appeal to American voters, and the core message behind tax cuts.

According to their rhetoric, Republicans want smaller federal government, because it is less intrusive, less prone to regulatory excess, less expensive, and more effective. This is the philosophy behind every domestic policy they oppose, such as shrinking welfare payments, eliminating regulations or government agencies.

Republicans have held to their "smaller government is best" mantra for decades, claiming that they had no mandate, or the Democrats were controlling congress and imposing their wasteful spending. Then Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980, and Republicans in congress refused to vote for the cuts Reagan proposed, killing the budget even before Democrats had an opportunity. Still, they said Reagan could not fight a Democratic Congress, that if they controlled congress things would be different.

In 1993 the Republicans stood together en masse to veto Clinton's budget, viewing themselves as the guardians of fiscal sanity and restraint. "Mr. Clinton's economic plan proposes the largest tax increase in American history, contains few real spending cuts, proposes $60 billion in new spending and adds $1 trillion to the debt during the next four years" Sen. Pete Dominici (R) told the Washington Times. Complaints of this nature were repeated ad nauseum.

The truth is, in inflation-adjusted dollars, the 1982 tax increases passed by a Republican-controlled Senate and Democratically controlled House and signed by Ronald Reagan were larger that the Clinton tax increases. The Reagan increase was also larger as a percentage of the overall economy.

Every senior member of the Republican leadership in the House and Senate voted against the 1990 budget deal. This includes, House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Sen.Maj.Leader Trent Lott, House Maj.Leader Dick Armey, Senate Maj.Whip Don Nickles, and House Maj.Whip Tom Delay. Every Republican in the House and the Senate voted Clinton's 1993 budget deal. The Republican leaders said in both cases that the budget deals raised taxes too much and failed to cut spending. Predicting both would result in higher deficits and slower economic growth. In fact, both led to stronger economic growth, in part because Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and Wall Street saw them as credible attempts to reduce federal deficts--a judgment that led to lower interest rates.

The Republicans have surely taken part in the feeding frenzy at the federal trough. In their first three budgets under the Clinton administration, Republicans increased federal spending by $183 billion, compared to a three-year increase of $155 billion by a Democratically controlled Congress. That's right, Republicans in charge of the nations purse strings, are responsible for increasing the cost of government. The just don't like spending the money on social improvement, they prefer spending it at the pork-farm. According to Citizens Against Government Waste, a watchdog group that monitors congressional spending, the Republicans authorized $14.5 billion in pork-barrel spending in 1996, a 16% increase over the previous year and the highest amount since it began monitoring in 1990. This is the same Republican party led by House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who said in 1993 that he resented the Democrats' spending-thrift habits because they were for "growing government to give politicians more pork-barrel handouts".

While this same congress made a zealous assault on welfare reform to reduce welfare to the needy, they made no such assault on corporate welfare. Every year Republicans fight amendments to remove subsidies for tobacco, timber, export, peanut, and mining subsidies. Every year since regaining control on congress, the Republicans have attempted to add the B-2 bomber to the defense budget, despite objections from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After making the line-item veto a centerpiece of their "Contract with America", the Republican Congress voted to override President Clinton's veto of several dozen military construction projects that had not gone through the appropriate approval process. This Congress continues to purchase airplanes, ships and equipment that the military neither wants nor needs. We are about to begin building a helicopter carrier to the tune of $1.4 billion that the military has said it does not need. The Republican Party is about a lot of things but spending reduction is not one of them.