Government Bytes


Historic Cuts? Try a Record Year for Spending

by Brandon Greife / /

If you’ve spent time listening to liberals and progressives over thepast year you were no doubt inundated with the message that Washington can’tafford to keep cutting. If we cut any more spending, we’ll not only endangerthe recovery, but we’ll put millions of Americans who rely on the government atrisk…or so the argument goes.

InMarch for instance, Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin declared during thebudget debate that “to go any further [than $10 billion in cuts] is to pushmore kids out of school, to stifle innovation which small businesses and largealike need to create more jobs, and it stops the investment in infrastructurewhich kills good paying jobs.”

He’snot alone. It’s a line that has been tweaked and recycled by liberalpoliticians in nearly every budget debate Washington has faced this year.

Thetrouble is there haven’t been any cuts. At least in the way that averageAmericans would define them.

Asthe WallStreet Journal reports,

Maybeit's a sign of the tumultuous times, but the federal government recentlywrapped up its biggest spending year, and its second biggest annual budgetdeficit, and almost nobody noticed.

TheCongressional Budget Office recently finished tallying the revenue and spendingfigures for fiscal 2011, which ended September 30, and no wonder no one inWashington is crowing. The political class might have its political pretenseblown. This is said to be a new age of fiscal austerity, yet the government hadits best year ever, spending a cool $3.6 trillion. That beat the $3.52 trillionposted in 2009, when the feds famously began their attempt to spend Americaback to prosperity.

Whathappened to all of those horrifying spending cuts? Good question. CBO says thatoverall outlays rose 4.2% from 2010 (1.8% adjusted for timing shifts), whenspending fell slightly from 2009. Defense spending rose only 1.2% on acalendar-adjusted basis, and Medicaid only 0.9%, but Medicare spending rose3.9% and interest payments by 16.7%.

Thebigger point: Government austerity is amyth.

So next time you hear a politician say “we can’t afford to keep cutting,” subtly ask him when westarted.