The Vital Need for Spending Restraint in the Second Bush Term

On Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued somber new deficit projections. And not surprisingly, many big spenders in Congress are blaming President Bush’s tax cuts.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has opined, “rather than addressing the problem, the President will deepen it by proposing a budget next month that seeks to add another $1.8 trillion in debt by extending huge tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.”

However, the efforts to link tax relief to the nation’s deficits ignore one small thing: the facts. The reality is that current federal deficits have not been caused by Americans being under-taxed. Instead, a review of the numbers shows that even just very modest spending restraint over the past half dozen years would have meant no deficit problem.

If the federal government had merely limited total spending growth over the past six years to 3.2% annually, CBO would today be projecting a small surplus for Fiscal Year 2005 (which runs from October 1, 2004 through September 30, 2005), instead of a $368 billion deficit.

And make no mistake — the spending explosion can’t even be blamed on defense or homeland security. Almost every cabinet department has seen a big spending run-up. For instance, just between 1999 and 2004, spending at the Department of Commerce rose by 23 percent, spending at the Department of Agriculture rose by 24 percent, and spending at the Department of Labor rose by 82 percent.

It’s long past time for President Bush and Congress to get serious about Washington’s spending addiction.