Out of Control Policy Blog

Unity after all?

Those on the left like to point out how silly W.'s years-old "uniter not divider" line sounds now. But are we really that divided?

The red-state, blue-state obsession overstates the degree of divisiveness among voters, and there's actually plenty of agreement among the ruling class. Maybe it's precisely because there is so much agreement on foundational issues–both parties, for example, are keen on keeping Social Security around, they just differ on the means–that smaller disagreements become so heated.

Republicans wouldn't dare propose ending Social Security, the best they can hope for is sneaking in a touch of personal choice.

Take another step back and it's clear–as libertarians have pointed out again and again– that the GOP is quite comfortable with an enormous federal government. In fact, the Rs doing a good job of out-spending the Ds.

Check out this new Cato study:

    President Bush has presided over the largest overall increase in inflation-adjusted federal spending since Lyndon B. Johnson. Even after excluding spending on defense and homeland security, Bush is still the biggest-spending president in 30 years. His 2006 budget doesn't cut enough spending to change his place in history, either.

    Total government spending grew by 33 percent during Bush's first term. The federal budget as a share of the economy grew from 18.5 percent of GDP on Clinton's last day in office to 20.3 percent by the end of Bush's first term.
    The Republican Congress has enthusiastically assisted the budget bloat. Inflation-adjusted spending on the combined budgets of the 101 largest programs they vowed to eliminate in 1995 has grown by 27 percent.

    The GOP was once effective at controlling nondefense spending. The final nondefense budgets under Clinton were a combined $57 billion smaller than what he proposed from 1996 to 2001. Under Bush, Congress passed budgets that spent a total of $91 billion more than the president requested for domestic programs. Bush signed every one of those bills during his first term. Even if Congress passes Bush's new budget exactly as proposed, not a single cabinet-level agency will be smaller than when Bush assumed office.

Not so long ago there was talk about actually eliminating certain agencies. Now its unrealistic to even give them a trim?

Ted Balaker is Producer


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