NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

New Ways To Spend Taxpayers' Money

December 8, 1998

Over the next three weeks, heads of federal departments and agencies will be lobbying for funding of their pet projects, observers report. With the coffers finally full again, cabinet secretaries, agency directors and program administrators will be making a push for their wish lists of new spending programs, against the desires of those who want to maintain fiscal discipline.

  • The Interior Department will be pleading for its new pet program, "Partnership for America's Resources: Our Legacy for the 21st Century" -- a $3 billion-a-year grab-bag for a half- dozen causes ranging from buying land for national forests to creating new landmarks at Indian tribal facilities.
  • The Labor Department yearns for a multibillion dollar expansion of worker-training programs.
  • Health and Human Services Department officials are excited about a package of tax credits and grants to improve child-care access costing more than $20 billion over five years -- which Congress shot down last year.
  • The Education Department expects President Clinton to once again endorse tax and grant proposals totaling $6.5 billion over five years for school construction.

Not a single cabinet member has publicly veered from the White House pledge to set aside the budget surplus for Social Security. Yet when they were asked earlier this fall to submit their proposed budgets for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2000, not a single member came back within the tight spending limits required by budget laws. Some were as much as 20 percent over the spending limits.

Political observers say the message has gone out from agencies and interest groups: Let the lobbying begin.

Source: Jacob M. Schlesinger and Bob Davis, "Agencies Start Lobbying for Pet Projects in Budget," Wall Street Journal, December 8, 1998.


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