General Overspending

Uncle Sam the Middleman

The federal government funds hundreds of subsidy programs for state, local, and private activities, such as programs for housing and economic development. State and local governments, businesses, charities, and individuals could fund such local activities by themselves without federal aid. But America is increasingly kicking local activities up to the federal government, and so Uncle Sam the Middleman keeps growing.

Wonkblog’s Debt Denial

A Time article by James Grant warning about rising federal debt has prompted pushback by columnists questioning whether debt is really so bad. At the Washington Post, Wonkblog columnist Matt O’Brien says “there’s no reason to cut the debt today.”

Largest Federal Government Agencies

We’ve updated the charting tool at www.downsizinggovernment.org/charts with the latest data. You can plot spending on hundreds of federal agencies and programs in constant, or inflation-adjusted, dollars. The charts cover 1970 to 2016.

Which are the largest federal government agencies, and how much have they grown? The following series of seven charts captured from the charting tool shows the 21 largest agencies.

Balancing the Federal Budget

Large spending cuts should be on the agenda when the next president enters office in 2017. Spending cuts would spur economic growth by shifting resources from lower-valued government activities to higher-valued private ones.

Trudeau-nomics

In recent weeks, the bureaucrats at both the International Monetary Fund and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have recommended that politicians should have a green light to supposedly stimulate growth by increasing the burden of government spending.

Not-So-Rapid Transit

Washington, DC opened its long-delayed streetcar for business on Saturday. Actually, it’s a stretch to say it is open “for business,” as the city hasn’t figured out how to collect fares for it, so they won’t be charging any.

President Obama Plays While the Federal Budget Burns

The U.S. is bankrupt. Of course, Uncle Sam has the power to tax. But at some point even Washington might not be able to squeeze enough cash out of the American people to pay its bills.

Presidential Spending

President Obama has issued his final federal budget, which includes his proposed spending for 2017. With this data, we can compare spending growth over eight years under Obama to spending growth under past presidents.

Figures 1 and 2 show annual average real (inflation-adjusted) spending growth during presidential terms back to Eisenhower. The data comes from Table 6.1 here, but I made two adjustments, as discussed below.

Pentagon Bureaucracy

Many articles in recent years have expressed concern about Pentagon bloat. Mackenzie Eaglen called for streamlining the Pentagon’s “army of bureaucrats.” Ray Mabus said“Twenty percent of the Pentagon budget, one dollar out of five, is spent on … the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the defense agencies … Pure overhead.”

President Obama’s FY2017 Budget

President Obama has released his budget for fiscal year 2017. The president’s spending and revenue proposals will be mainly dead on arrival on Capitol Hill, including his $3 trillion in proposed tax hikes.

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