Foundation

Bush's Budget Boasts of Discipline Even as It Boosts Spending, Taxpayer Group's Analysis Finds

by Pete Sepp / /

(Alexandria, VA) -- Despite annual promises of fiscal discipline, President Bush's latest budget shows that by the beginning of Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 federal spending will have grown 49 percent since he took office -- just one of the many interesting items in an analysis released today by the non-partisan National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF).

"Many in Washington are already wailing about so-called draconian cuts in the President's latest budget, but above all the noise the quiet truth is a lot less dramatic," said NTUF Senior Policy Analyst Demian Brady. Among NTUF's findings:

  • In inflation-adjusted dollars, projected federal receipts in FY 2007 will nearly return to the level of the FY 2000 "boom year." Yet, over that same period, federal outlays will have risen $525 billion in real terms, or 29 percent.
  • The Budget Message claims that last year "Congress delivered" on the President's goal of holding "overall discretionary spending growth below the rate of inflation," even though this is demonstrably untrue in the budget's own tables -- between Fiscal Year 2005 and 2006, total discretionary outlays are projected to jump 6.6 percent, far faster than any estimates for inflation.
  • Between 2001 and 2007, the President's budget projects a faster rate of increase for education spending (81 percent) than for defense (74 percent).
  • The budget proposes to cut or eliminate 102 major and minor items that received low ratings under the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) system. However, at least 54 of them also received a low rating and were targeted in last year's budget too. If all 302 of the proposed PART adjustments, regardless of their rating, were enacted, federal spending would fall by $47.5 billion -- still less than 2 percent of all proposed outlays.
  • While the budget proposes "mandatory" savings of $65 billion over five years, this would slow the growth (not cut) spending in this category by 0.77 percent.
  • The 4-volume set consisting of the FY 2007 Budget, Appendix, Historical Tables, and Analytical Perspectives sold for $264 this year -- unchanged from the 2006 budget price but 37 percent higher than the Administration's first set of budget books (FY 2002). This is nearly three times the rate of increase in the Consumer Price Index (including the projected 2005-2006 change).

"A closer look at the President's blueprint reveals restraint in some domestic spending, another round of 'supplemental' requests, and minor changes to mandatory programs that all add up to modest progress on reducing the deficit," Brady concluded. "Even as federal revenues continue to increase at a rapid clip, the Administration's worthy deficit reduction goals are likely to slip further without additional commitment from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue."

NTUF is the non-partisan research arm of the 350,000-member National Taxpayers Union. Note: For further information, including an NTUF cost analysis of the President's State of the Union Speech, visit www.ntu.org.

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