Our big-spender President

President Bush’s budget for fiscal year 2009, which goes to Congress, carries an alarming distinction: For the first time in the history of the republic, annual federal spending will cross the $3 trillion mark.

And federal spending got there early. That figure had been anticipated but not until next year when the new president would have been saddled with that honor.

Bush was also in office when the government crossed the $2 trillion mark in 2002 and the budget, thanks to the president’s free spending Republican allies in Congress, sank into deficit after four years of surpluses.

To get a sense of the growth of government, consider: Spending didn’t cross the $1 trillion mark until 1987 and the $100 billion threshold until 1972.

Bush also holds the single-year record for worst federal deficit, $412.7 billion in 2004, and this budget will come close to equaling that mark, calling for a deficit of around $400 billion this year and next. Given the cost of the stimulus package, fixing the Alternative Minimum Tax and the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, there was no way around it other than tax increases and we know how he feels about those.

Nonetheless, the president insists he will keep his promise of balancing the budget by 2012. And this budget makes it seem as if he will — by freezing most domestic spending and making steep cuts — $208 billion — in the growth of entitlements, especially Medicare, that the president is fully aware Congress won’t go along with, especially in an election year.

The Bush budget highlights the intractability of the entitlements problem. He would cut the growth of Medicare by $178 billion but even so with all the Boomers retiring, the program will still grow by 5 percent a year.

It’s not the happiest way to leave office. But Bush to his credit did try to reform Social Security — although private accounts was probably a poor way to lead it off — and got precious little help from either party.

Think about it, though. It’s kind of awesome to live in a country that can spend $3 trillion a year, even if a chunk of it is borrowed from the sheikhs and the Chinese.


  1. Carl Nemo

    “But Bush to his credit did try to reform Social Security — although private accounts was (were) probably a poor way to lead it off — and got precious little help from either party.”

    Damn, shazzam Dale McFeatters…!

    How in the world can you allude that SS reform would have worked out well for the benefit of “we the people” under the guidance of Bushco…?!

    We are dealing with two arch criminals that started a war based on cooked intelligence, courtesy of the Wolfowitz-Feith-Cheney rogue intelligence pipeline and you feel that these two mattoids would have set up reform that would have safely benefited SS recipients both present and into the future. I think NOT…!

    They’ve made a clean sweep of the U.S. Treasury, indebting not only us, but our children and grand children to come til the 12th of never. They attempting at balancing the budget so they can hopefully steal these savings too…!

    Bush/Cheney are evil, human garbage; ie., both traitors to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Republic for which it stands, that in olden times when the “rabble still had balls” would have been summarily been held accountable! Even they too must be laughing their asses off at the end of the day thinking just how stupid a bunch of people; ie., an entire nation could possibly be…?!

    I believe it’s Superbowl XLII (note: Roman numerals) Sunday weekend no…?! Ah…nothing like bread and circuses for the unwashed masses to enjoy while “millionaires” play ball on the field, many of them paid in Euro’s per their contract…?! 😐

    Carl Nemo **==

  2. Paolo

    The grim facts, per Wikipedia: Total US debt, including unfunded liabilities for Social Security and Medicare, are almost 60 trillion dollars. Accumulated federal government debt is well over 60 percent of the entire Gross Domestic Product. To put it in commonplace terms: we’re screwed, bankrupt, and well on our way to third-world status.

    Isn’t it astounding to hear George W. Bush, of all people, scold Congress for “pork barrel” spending? He and his Republican Congress ran up spending and deficits–saddling you, me, and our children with inconceivable debt–for six years. Now, he has the sheer gall to blame Congress!

    Had the issue of government spending been addressed two or three decades ago, we would have a chance to tighten our belts and get out of this mess. Now, the debt is so out of control, there is little hope it will ever be paid off.

    Next: A Solution.

  3. Paolo

    The best solution to the problem of government spending is to first realize that government, by its nature, totally lacks discipline. Why? Because (1) the government is the only institution that can use force legally to extort money, (2) the government can end-run politically unpopular tax increases by issuing bonds, thus saddling future generations with debt before they are even born, and (3) they can create money out of thin air through their buddies in the Federal Reserve (which has a “reserve” of exactly nothing).

    In other words, the federal government is your no-good, wastrel cousin who always spends more than he earns. Only your wastrel cousin will be bankrupt and in the gutter in a few short years, harming only himself, his family, and of course his creditors. The federal government saddles the entire nation with its wastrel spending.

    The ultimate answer is to abolish the Federal Reserve and allow a free market in money. This single act would force the federal government into fiscal and monetary responsibility. If the feds continued to spend, borrow, and print as they do now, everyone would dump dollars faster than they got their hands on them, exchanging them for real, free-market money (most likely, precious metal coins).

    Who’s the only presidential candidate who understands this? Ron Paul.

  4. JudyB

    Ron Pauls time will come but alas…it will come after he has gone. The younger generation is getting on to what he has been advocating but it will still be a while before it will come about..and he knows it and eagerly speaks about it.
    The most immediate help for this nation will be the none too soon departure of Bush/Cheney and as far as I’m concerned it will not come soon enough..they still have 7 months to continue their mayhem and God only knows how much or in what areas. So dear friends..hang on, because it could get even worse!!!

  5. Ted Remington

    I keep wondering why the Dems don’t label the Republicans as Steal and Spend Republicans every time they open their mouths on the cmapaign trail. I would. Certainly it’s true and certainly it would get the attention of a lot of independent voters.

    The Republicans continue to call the Dems tax-and-spend as if taxing were a bad thing, but the level of stealing now means that we are no longer stealing from our children, we are stealing from THEIR children, and more than likely from even the third generation.


  6. Paolo

    This debt won’t be paid off by our children, our grandchildren, or even our great-grandchildren. Likely, it will never be paid off.

    One possible scenario (the best) is that our children will wake up one day and just say, “I never signed a contract to pay off this irresponsible debt. Time to grab the pitchforks, torches, and shotguns, and just tell the government ‘Hell No!'”

    Another scenario is the government “monetizing” the debt: a contradiction in terms, but that never stopped Washington. In other words, the concept “debt” will be converted to the concept, “money.” In other words, they try to print their way out of the jam. The result will be worthlessness for the dollar (we’re already halfway there). People will see their life savings wiped out. Our children will see the cost of a trip to the grocery store rise to a thousand bucks, then two thousand the week after that. This is also called the “Weimar Solution.” Again, the best outcome: pitchforks, torches, and shotguns. And lots of government officials hanging from lampposts. Hey, we can dream, can’t we?