Editorial: Popping the Appropriations Bubble
Congress has once again proven itself to be just about the only entity in America that considers a deepening recession just cause to whip out the credit card and go on an unbridled spending spree.
In fact, judging from the most recent bloated appropriations spending bill passed last week in the House by a lopsided 245-178 party-line vote, it seems clear that government actually thrives during such periods of economic uncertainty. H.R. 1105, also known as the FY 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act, doles out money to nine separate appropriations, bills which then in turn feed a multitude of government agencies and programs.
“Engorge,” however, might be the more appropriate term.
When all the numbers are tallied, H.R. 1105 contains $410 billion in spending on the included agencies and programs. This marks a $32 billion—or 8%—increase in funding over the FY 2008 levels. And remember: this comes at a time when the national debt is already approaching $11 trillion.
Notwithstanding, the following represents a portion of the funding increases the members of Congress have just approved:
• Transportation/HUD: $55 billion – $6.2 billion (13%) above 2008 levels
• Agriculture: $20.5 billion - $2.4 billion (13%) above 2008 levels
• Energy and Water: $33.3 billion - $2.4 billion (8%) above 2008 levels
As the Republican Committee on Appropriations points out, this staggering surge in funding marks the single largest increase in annual discretionary spending since the “national malaise” days of the Carter Administration (9/11 funding excluded). The included earmarks and pork-projects are similarly outrageous.
It's no wonder, therefore, that President Bush had promised to veto the Democrats' Omnibus Appropriations spending bill should it have arrived on his desk during the waning days of his presidency last year. Such an egregious inflation of government spending ought not to be tolerated by any President—even one with a tendency to occasionally cave to big-spending pressures.
And if the $410 billion wasn't enough to send the fiscally-responsible into a frenzy, the Omnibus Appropriations bill contains funding for agencies that were already funneled money through the federal “stimulus” package. The combined grand total for spending on these agencies and programs tips the scales at a whopping $680 billion.
That tallies at a $301 billion increase—or an 80% swell—over the amount these agencies received in 2008.
The Republican staff of the Appropriations Committee also outlined a number of pork projects and national policy changes included in the legislation. These include:
- $2.9 billion—in addition to the $1 billion provided by the “stimulus” bill—towards the 2010 decennial census. This is particularly troubling given the White House's efforts to “supervise”—i.e. control and manipulate—the 2010 national headcount.
- $310 million—in addition to the $50 million provided by the “stimulus” bill—for the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities.
- $545 million for family planning, including spending for the UN Population Fund for contraceptives.
Moreover, the Omnibus Appropriations bill eases travel and trade restrictions with regards to Cuba, fails to prohibit the future implementation of the “Fairness Doctrine”, attacks school choice in the dismal educational environment of Washington, D.C., and more.
Although the “here and now” of the $410 billion H.R. 1105 is reason enough for national outrage, the true calamity is what awaits the nation down the road should such excessive spending continue.
Facing a national debt of nearly $11 trillion, Barack Obama's recently unveiled $3.6 trillion budget, coupled with an escalating annual deficit, portends nothing short of an economic apocalypse. And the immediate result of this spending spree will ineluctably be higher taxes, higher interest rates, and – sooner rather than later – staggering inflation.
One way or another, the American people will be forced to foot the bill for a Congress spending far outside of its means. And in tough economic times such as these, more taxpayer burden is the very last thing a strapped American people need.
The nation's leaders in Washington ought to step back and face the fact that their out-of-control spending has gone too far. If politicians really want to absolve the deepening economic crisis and set the country on a path towards recovery, they need to trim down the government, cut their costs, and tighten their belts.
Instead, they vote time and again to make the “Appropriations Bubble” grow bigger by the day, blithely ignoring the stark fact that a federal government trying to spend itself solvent is a surefire recipe for an economic “pop” heard round the world.