Missing the Point

The Bush administration’s self-delusion about the state of the federal budget continues. At a speech at AEI yesterday, Karl Rove claimed that the growth rate in the nondefense, non-security portion of the budget had fallen. Fiscal conservatives who complain about spending are “missing the facts” Rove says. 

Yes “growth rates” are down in this small portion of the budget from the massive growth rates of earlier in the decade. But here, from the most recent federal budget, are the more important facts on Bush’s first five years. Data for fiscal 2006 are Bush estimates (actual 2006 spending is likely to be higher) in billions of dollars. 

2001 federal outlays 

Total: $1,863 

Department of Defense: $290 

Department of Homeland Security: $15 

Total outlays less defense and homeland security: $1,558 

2006 federal outlays

Total: $2,709 

Department of Defense: $512 

Department of Homeland Security: $44**

Total outlays less defense and homeland security: $2,153 

(**Homeland Security spending spikes in fiscal 2006 due to Katrina. To roughly take out this effect, I used the 2007 figure of $44 billion). 

What we have then over Bush’s 5 years is a 45 percent increase in federal spending and a 38 percent increase in spending excluding defense and homeland security. 

Of course, the Bush administration shouldn’t get a free ride for its massive increase in defense and security spending. Pentagon spending is notoriously wasteful, and much “homeland security” spending is either wasteful or properly the responsibility of state governments or the private sector. All added spending sucks more resources out the private economy and the average American’s wallet.