Sunday, February 13, 2005

A penetrating glance into the obvious.


Yet government has only grown. The Cato Institute, a libertarian research institution, says overall federal spending has increased twice as fast under Mr. Bush as under Mr. Clinton. At the same time, the federal deficit is projected to hit a record high of $427 billion this year.

These trends seem likely to continue. The White House estimated last week that the cost of prescription drugs for Medicare beneficiaries, originally projected at $400 billion from 2004 to 2013, would, in fact, be $724 billion from 2006 to 2015. Republicans called for scaling back the benefit, but on Friday, Mr. Bush said no and vowed to veto any changes to the Medicare bill.

"The era of big government being over is over," declared Marshall Wittmann, a senior fellow at the Democratic Leadership Council, a centrist Democratic research organization. That would certainly seem to be borne out in the record of the Republican revolutionaries, known as the "Class of 1994" for the year they were elected. Of the 30 who are still in the House of Representatives, 28 hsponsored bills in the last Congress that would have increased government spending overall, according to the National Taxpayers Union, an antitax group.

Some of the expansion in government was beyond their control. One big reason for the rise in spending is the growth of mandatory entitlements like Medicare and Medicaid. Another is the administration's "war on terror"; the government has added an entire new agency, the Department of Homeland Security, since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and has spent many billions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Here's what you won't read anywhere else: Low taxes are not often conducive to growth. Government spending is.

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