If we ever needed a good reason for the Read the Bills Act, President Bush’s four-volume, $2,77 trillion budget for the 2007 fiscal year is it. Let’s draw that out: 2,770,000,000,000. That’s nine thousand dollars of federal government for every person in the country. It includes a whopping $420 billion deficit – and that’s based on rosy economic projections! And this budget doesn’t even include appropriations for the War on Iraq, which will likely be another $120 billion.
Yet, much attention is focused on spending cuts that amount to just $14.5 billion – little more than one half of one percent of the total – and on cutting projected Medicare spending by just $35 billion over the next five years.
Ten years ago, President Clinton’s proposed budget was $1.635 trillion, or over $1.1 trillion less than today’s. Twenty years ago, the federal government spent a trillion dollars for the first time. Thirty years ago, President Ford proposed a $394 billion budget – in other words, one-seventh of the President Bush’s budget.
To be fair, I’m not using “inflation adjusted dollars.” Government was much too big even then. But at the same time, big government is the very reason why we have inflation. Yes, for about 25 years the government has been telling us that inflation is “under control,” with just tiny increases in the prices of, say, grocery staples from year to year. Cheap imported goods have certainly kept prices down, and technological development has in many ways improved our living standards. But regardless of what the government's Consumer Price Index claims, we see and feel the effects of inflation from health care to higher education to energy. And, especially, in the cost of government.
It almost makes one nostalgic for the Ford Administration. (Almost.) I came across this document
, which quotes President Ford:
“To put it simply, we must decide whether we shall continue in the direction of recent years -- the path toward bigger Government, higher taxes, and higher inflation -- or whether we shall now take a new direction -- bringing to a halt the momentous growth of Government, restoring our prosperity, and allowing each of you a greater voice in your own future.”
Back then, there were at least a few politicians in Washington who cared about fiscal discipline. President Ford’s concerns of thirty years ago are even more pertinent today:
"If we go on spending more than we have, providing more benefits and more services than we can pay for, then a day of reckoning will come to Washington and the whole country . . . When that day of reckoning comes, who will bail out the United States of America?"
If we don't Downsize DC soon - and I mean very soon - that day of reckoning will be upon us.