NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Spending Keeps Growing

December 26, 1995

Despite the hoopla over the Republicans' congressional budget proposal, it would only reduce projected spending over the next seven years from about $13 trillion to about $12 trillion, ending with a federal government spending $350 billion more in 2002 than in fiscal year 1995.

That level of federal spending is neither pitifully inadequate nor a revolutionary reversal in the growth of the nanny state. After World War II, for example, federal spending was actually cut in half, from $93 billion in 1945 to $42.4 billion in 1951. In contrast, the $12 trillion in proposed spending over seven years is enough to fight three World War IIs.

But military spending is not the growing area of the federal government:

  • National security takes up a smaller share of the total budget than at any other time in American history.
  • Defense spending in real dollars was only 11 percent higher in 1995 than in 1955.
  • If non-defense spending had only risen at the same pace as defense spending over the past 40 years, total annual expenditures today would be $480 billion -- about $1 trillion less than actual spending.

The real growth in federal spending between 1955 and 1995 has been for social programs and entitlements, in such areas as:

  • Education and social services, where spending has increased 2,117.4 percent.
  • Science and technology, where expenditures have grown 3,937.8 percent.
  • Health programs, on which spending has increased 16,374.2 percent.

The future explosive growth in spending for some of these programs is restrained by the GOP budget, but it falls far short of actually reducing the size of the federal government.

Source: Stephen Moore (Cato Institute), "The Nanny State Fights Back," National Review, December 25, 1995.


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