Did you know that Republicans are 10-times worse than Democrats when it comes to filling up the budget with pork-barrel projects? That’s right, 10-times worse.
The Wall Street Journal spelled it all out the other day (Jan. 24) in an excellent story on Page A4 about the Expanding Bush Budgets.
According to the WSJ, there has been a “tenfold increase in Congress’s appropriations ‘earmarks’ for special projects — numbering more than 14,000 last year — since Republicans took over Congress in 1995.”
Wow! That still just floors me. How do they get away with it? The Republicans came to power by attacking Democrats as porkbarrell spenders wasting taxpayers’ money, and yet they have increased the practice tenfold since they took over control of the budget process. Incredible.
The other thing Republicans did besides expanding porkbarrel spending 10-fold, was to redirect it away from the poor and the needy and towards their wealthy financial backers. It’s been party time in Washington ever since, with Tom DeLay flying all over the world in corporate jets to exotic luxury resorts where he plays golf and dines with the fat cats of the world.
Oh, but don’t worry. G. William Hoagland, budget adviser to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, assures us that these earmarks aren’t the real problem. After all, “relative to the total budget, such pork spending is the size of a rounding error.”
The real problem is the run-away cost of health care which has made federal spending on mandatory entitlements like Medicare and Medicaid balloon out of control. Bill and Hillary tried to warn us back in the early ‘90s, but did the Republicans listen? Noooooo.
Here is the big picture of the federal budget, according to the WSJ:
When Bush came to office in 2001, the federal budget request totaled $1.8 trillion. The expected budget request for 2007 will be $2.7 trillion. Total spending from 2001 to 2005 has risen by an average of 7 percent annually, double the pace of the previous 5 years (the Clinton years), and nearly triple the average inflation rate.
“Mandatory spending for entitlement programs with benefits set by law accounts for more than half the total budget. Last year, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security cost more than $1 trillion...
Medicare has been growing twice as fast as Social Security amid rising health costs – and that is before the tab for Mr. Bush’s new prescription-drug benefit. Entitlement spending is projected to explode as baby boomers retire.”
Then there is the interest on the U.S. debt, which jumped a near-record 14.2 percent in 2005. Spending on the debt is now roughly half the size of all domestic discretionary spending or “more than the entire budgets of the departments of Agriculture, Education, Energy, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Interior, Justice and Labor combined.”
And, of course, defense spending has ballooned thanks largely to Bush’s quagmire in Iraq. But even when you take out the increases in Defense and Homeland Security spending tied to 9/11, we are still seeing record levels of spending, according to Brian Riedl of the Heritage Foundation. “The brakes are off everywhere,” he says.
That’s because Republican policy is to engorge themselves today and not worry about tomorrow. It’s OK if they leave the government broken and bogged down in debt, because they never believed it could work anyway.