Four Years Growth
"The American people have been overcharged for Government, and they deserve a refund." ~ President George W. Bush (The Budget Message of the President, 2002)
The year 2000 Platform of the Republican Party implied that the Republican Party was the party that held the supposedly conservative ideas of fiscal responsibility and smaller government:
"Since 1994, with Republicans leading the House and Senate, spending has been held to an annual 3.1 percent rate of growth, and the nation's debt will be nearly $400 billion lower by the end of this year. The federal government has operated in the black for the last two years and is now projected to run a surplus of nearly $5 trillion over the years."
"We intend to downsize this mess and make government actually do what it is supposed to."
"A Republican president will run the federal government much as the Republican governors run state agencies. Bureaucracy will be reduced and trimmed in size at its upper echelons."
Nothing could be further from the truth, for as has been documented, the idea that the Republican Party is the party of conservatism is a myth. The Republican Party has always been the party of big government, plunder, and sellouts. A look at the "four years growth" of the federal government under the presidency of George Bush confirms and amplifies these facts.
The Republicans gained control of the Congress in the third year of Clinton's first term. They had complete control of the 104th Congress (1995—1997), held on to control in the 105th Congress (1997—1999), and remained in power during the 106th Congress (1999—2001) through the end of Clinton's presidency. After George Bush was inaugurated in 2001, he had a Republican-controlled 107th Congress (2001—2003) until May 24, 2001, when Jim Jeffords (R-VT) switched from Republican to Independent, changing the Senate from 50/50 to 50 Democrats, 49 Republicans, and 1 Independent. The House remained in Republican hands. The 108th Congress (2003—2005) was once again solidly Republican, giving the Republicans an absolute majority in Congress and the White House for the last two years of Bush's first term.
This means that the Republican Party has no excuse for the size and scope of the federal government as it exists right now. Republicans can't blame anything on the Democrats like they did for the fifty years before they gained control of the Congress.
Now that we are at the end of Bush's first four years, a simple question needs to be asked: Is the government at the end of Bush's first term in any way smaller or less expensive than the government at the beginning of his first term. If it is, then Bush and the Republican Party told the truth, but if it isn't, then Bush's rhetoric was just hot air and the 2000 Republican Party Platform wasn't worth the paper it was written on.
The Federal Budget
According to the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, the president must annually submit a budget to Congress by the first Monday in February. The government's fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30. This means that the budget submitted in February is actually for the next fiscal year that begins in October. An outgoing president is not required to submit a budget. And because it is not practical for a new president, who takes office on January 20, to submit a budget within a few days of taking office, he is given extra time to submit a budget his first year in office. On February 28, 2001, President Bush submitted to Congress a FY 2002 summary budget plan called A Blueprint for New Beginnings — A Responsible Budget for America's Priorities. In his message to the Congress that begins this document, two comments by the president stand out:
Excessive taxation is corroding our prosperity.
Government spending has risen too quickly.
And what did Bush propose to do about these things? He proposed an increase in the federal budget from $1.856 trillion in FY 2001 to $1.959 trillion in FY 2002. That is an increase of $103 billion over Clinton's last budget. Then, on April 9, 2001, Bush submitted his FY 2002 budget to Congress. But the actual budget he proposed was up to $1.961 trillion. "A Note to the Reader" at the head of one of the budget's accompanying documents, A Citizen's Guide to the Federal Budget, puts this figure in perspective: "Next year, your Federal Government will spend nearly $2.0 trillion. Needless to say, that's a lot of money. In fact, that's almost $7,000 for every man, woman, and child in the country; nearly $5.4 billion per day; and about $3.7 million per minute. And most of that money comes from taxes on the American people." But it gets worse, for according to the "Summary of Receipts, Outlays, and Surpluses or Deficits" in the FY 2005 budget, the federal government actually spent $2.011 trillion in FY 2002.
In the FY 2002 budget, the estimate for the FY 2005 budget (the last budget of Bush's first term) was $2.169 trillion. But by the time this budget was actually submitted to the Congress on February 2, 2004, it had grown to $2.4 trillion. It was only ten years ago that the federal budget was about a trillion dollars less than it is now. Will the federal budget shrink or even stay the same during the next four years that Bush is in office? The answer should be quite obvious. The projected budget for FY 2009 is a whopping $2.853 trillion.
Finding what to cut in the federal budget is not a difficult matter. The series of LRC articles by Jim Grichar on "Cutting the Federal Budget To Prevent U.S. Bankruptcy" should be required reading for all members of Congress.
The Federal Deficit
The federal deficit is the amount by which the government's spending exceeds its revenues for a fiscal year. Clinton had a budget surplus his last four years in office. When FY 2001 ended during Bush's first year in office (9/28/2001), there was a surplus of $127 billion. Bush turned that into a budget deficit of $157 billion for FY 2002, $375 billion for FY 2003, and $413 billion for FY 2004. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated last September that the deficit for FY 2005 would be $348 billion.
The Federal Debt
The federal debt is the total of all the deficits and surpluses that the federal government runs each year. The daily change in the debt can be seen on the website of the Treasury Department's Bureau of the Public Debt. At the time of Bush's first inauguration in 2001, the federal debt stood at $5,727,776,738,304.64. At the time of his second inauguration on January 20, 2005, the federal debt stood at $7,613,772,338,689.34. Thus, the federal debt increased almost $2 trillion under the first four years of Bush's reign. The federal debt at the end of the last three fiscal years is as follows:
As anyone with high credit card balances knows, maintaining a high debt level costs a lot of money in the form of interest payments. The interest expense for the last three fiscal years is as follows:
The interest expense for the first three months of FY 2005 (Oct., Nov., & Dec.) was $120,248,160,823.07. The interest expense on this massive debt is the third largest expense in the federal budget.
The Federal Bureaucracy
According to the FY 2005 budget, the estimated total of executive branch full-time equivalent (FTE) federal employees (excluding postal employees) at the end of FY 2005 is 1,875,000. This is up substantially from the number of 1,737,000 at the end of FY 2001. The federal bureaucracy mainly consists of the executive branch departments, the offices under the Executive Office of the President (EOP), and other assorted federal agencies and commissions.
Executive Branch Departments
When Bill Clinton was president, Republicans talked about eliminating some executive branch departments. As usual, their actions did not match their speech. However, at least no new departments were added under Clinton's rule. It is too bad that the same thing cannot be said about no new departments being added on Bush's watch.
The following is a list of the executive branch departments along with the dates of their creation:
- Department of Agriculture (1862)
- Department of Commerce (1913)
- Department of Defense (1947)
- Department of Education (1979)
- Department of Energy (1977)
- Department of Health and Human Services (1979)
- Department of Homeland Security (2002)
- Department of Housing and Urban Development (1965)
- Department of the Interior (1849)
- Department of Justice (1789)
- Department of Labor (1913)
- Department of State (1789)
- Department of Transportation (1966)
- Department of the Treasury (1789)
- Department of Veterans Affairs (1989)
[The Department of Commerce was originally the Department of Commerce and Labor (1903); the Department of Defense was originally the Department of War (1789); the Department of Health and Human Services was originally the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (1953); the Department of Labor was originally the Department of Commerce and Labor (1903)]
No one is saying that all of these departments should be eliminated — just the majority of them. The original four (Justice, State, Treasury, and War) might conceivably serve some useful purpose — if they were scaled down considerably. But what about the other departments? What did we do in this country without a Department of Education until 1979? Were people not being educated properly until then? Is it the job of the government to provide health and human services? Is it the job of the government to oversee housing and urban development? And to those who say that we need the new Department of Homeland Security to defend us from terrorist attacks, I say: What about the Department of Defense? If U.S. troops were not scattered all over the globe then perhaps they might be able to guard our borders, patrol our coasts, and defend us from terrorist attacks.
Executive Office of the President
The EOP consists of individuals and agencies that directly assist the president. The EOP is a New Deal increase in the federal bureaucracy. It was created by Congress in the Reorganization Act of 1939, at the instigation of President Roosevelt. Here is the official list from the White House EOP website:
- Council of Economic Advisers
- Council on Environmental Quality
- Domestic Policy Council
- National Economic Council
- National Security Council
- Office of Administration
- Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives
- Office of Management and Budget
- Office of National AIDS Policy
- Office of National Drug Control Policy
- Office of Science & Technology Policy
- Office of the United States Trade Representative
- President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board
- President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board
- USA Freedom Corps
- White House Military Office
The number and size of EOP agencies varies from administration to administration. President Bush could have eliminated any one of the above agencies.
Federal Agencies and Commissions
And then there are the numerous federal agencies and commissions. Here is the official list from the White House "Federal Agencies and Commissions" website:
- Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
- African Development Foundation
- Agency for International Development
- American Battle Monuments Commission
- Appalachian Regional Commission
- Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board
- Ballistic Missile Defense Organization
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, & Firearms
- Bureau of Arms Control
- Bureau of Engraving & Printing
- Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Bureau of the Census
- Bureau of Transportation Statistics
- Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
- Central Intelligence Agency
- Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigations Board
- Commodity Futures Trading Commission
- Commission on Civil Rights
- Consumer Product Safety Commission
- Corporation For National Service
- Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
- Defense Information Systems Agency
- Defense Intelligence Agency
- Defense Logistics Agency
- Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board
- Defense Security Service
- Defense Threat Reduction Agency
- Drug Enforcement Administration
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
- Export-Import Bank of the U.S.
- Farm Credit Administration
- Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board
- Federal Aviation Administration
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Federal Communications Commission
- Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
- Federal Election Commission
- Federal Emergency Management Agency
- Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
- Federal Highway Administration
- Federal Housing Finance Board
- Federal Labor Relations Authority
- Federal Maritime Commission
- Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service
- Federal Mine Safety & Health Review Commission
- Federal Railroad Administration
- Federal Reserve System
- Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board
- Federal Trade Commission
- Food & Drug Administration
- General Accounting Office
- General Services Administration
- Ginnie Mae
- Immigration & Naturalization Services
- Institute of Museum and Library Services
- Inter-American Development Bank
- Inter-American Foundation
- Internal Revenue Services
- International Bank for Reconstruction & Development
- International Labor Organization
- International Monetary Fund
- International Trade Commission
- Legal Services Corporation
- Medicare Payment Advisory Commission
- Merit Systems Protection Board
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration
- National Archives and Records Administration
- National Bioethics Advisory Commission
- National Capital Planning Commission
- National Commission on Libraries and Information Science
- National Council on Disability
- National Credit Union Administration
- National Endowment for the Arts
- National Endowment for the Humanities
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- National Imagery & Mapping Agency
- National Institute of Justice
- National Institute of Mental Health
- National Institute of Standards & Technology
- National Institutes of Health
- National Labor Relations Board
- National Mediation Board
- National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
- National Park Service
- National Science Foundation
- National Security Agency
- National Skill Standards Board
- National Technology Transfer Center
- National Telecommunications Information Administration
- National Transportation Safety Board
- Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation
- Nuclear Regulatory Commission
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration
- Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission
- Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight
- Office of Government Ethics
- Office of Personnel Management
- Office of Special Counsel
- Office of Thrift Supervision
- Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development
- Organization of American States
- Overseas Private Investment Corp.
- Pan American Health Organization
- Patent & Trademark Office
- Peace Corps
- Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
- Postal Rate Commission
- Railroad Retirement Board
- Securities and Exchange Commission
- Securities Investor Protection Corp.
- Selective Service System
- Small Business Administration
- Smithsonian Institution
- Social Security Administration
- Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration
- Surface Transportation Board
- Tennessee Valley Authority
- Trade and Development Agency
- U.S. Customs Service
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- U.S. Forest Service
- U.S. Government Printing Office
- U.S. Institute of Peace
- U.S. Office of Government Ethics
- U.S. Treasury
- United States Holocaust Memorial Council
- United States Postal Service
- United Nations Information Center
- Voice of America
- Walter Reed Army Medical Center
- White House Fellows
- White House Commission on Remembrance
- Women's History Commission
Are all these agencies and commissions necessary? Are any of them constitutional? Most Americans have probably never even heard of half of them.
This brief look at the four years growth of the federal budget, deficit, debt, and bureaucracy shows without a doubt that a Republican president and a Republican Congress cannot be trusted to roll back the welfare/warfare state even one-tenth of an inch. Given their track record, you can count on them to increase it substantially during the next four years. Never, never, never trust any document written by the Republican Party or anything that comes out of the mouth of any Republican president, congressman, or politician about reducing the size and scope of government. And yes, the same thing goes for the Democrats.
George Bush was right when he said a few years ago: "The American people have been overcharged for Government, and they deserve a refund." The only problem with his statement is that it is now Bush and the Republicans who have overcharged the American people for government, and there is no refund in sight.
January 24, 2005
Laurence M. Vance [send him mail] is a freelance writer and an adjunct instructor in accounting and economics at Pensacola Junior College in Pensacola, FL. His new book is Christianity and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State. Visit his website.
Copyright © 2005 LewRockwell.com