1. Additional federal spending transfers resources from the more productive private sector to the less productive public sector of the economy. The bulk of federal spending goes toward subsidies and benefit payments, which generally do not enhance economic productivity. With lower productivity, average American incomes will fall.
U.S. News & World Report’s columnist, Paul Bedard, reports that Transportation secretary Ray LaHood told him that it’s fun playing Santa Claus to states and cities around the nation.
In August, President Barack Obama commented that “UPS and FedEx are doing just fine. … It’s the post office that’s always having problems.” We found out just how deep those problems were when Postmaster General John Potter announced that the U.S. Postal Service is facing $238 billion in losses over the next 10 years.
The Economist’s Free Exchange blog asks: “[W]hy isn’t federal aid to states more popular, and popular enough to get through Congress, given that nearly every American lives in one?”
The Department of Homeland Security is in the news for a range of management problems. Bureaucratic bungling at DHS has been an agency hallmark since its creation in 2003. In 2008, the House Committee on Homeland Security counted $15 billion worth of failed DHS contracts for various projects since its inception.
A couple weeks ago Orson Swindle, an assistant secretary of commerce for economic development in the Reagan Administration, was kind enough to send me news articles from his days battling policymakers over porky Economic Development Administration projects. In a 1989 Insight article, Orson gave a nice summation of one of the problems with special interest spending:
According to the latest Small Business Economic Trends survey conducted by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, 31 percent of respondents said the single most important problem facing small businesses is “poor sales.” “Taxes” and “Government Regulations and Red Tape” came in second and third place at 22 percent and 13 percent respectively. Combining the two, the biggest problem facing small businesses according to respondents is government.