NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Congressional Spending Patterns

January 22, 1997

The last Congress actually voted for $9 billion in higher spending, according to a new study by the National Taxpayers Union. It also found that Republican members in both houses led the list budget cutters, while the 10 biggest spenders in each house were Democrats.

  • On average, House members last year supported cuts of $21.3 billion in non-defense discretionary spending and $62.6 billion in non-automatic entitlement spending.
  • The average senator voted to cut $13.1 billion in non-defense spending and $61.2 billion in discretionary entitlement growth.
  • On the other hand, members of the House of Representatives voted to keep automatic entitlement spending growing by $30.3 billion and senators backed increases of $28.3 billion.

House members from Wisconsin were the most tight-fisted, while those from Hawaii were the most lavish with taxpayers' money. In the Senate, Colorado's senators were the most prudent, while those from Nevada took the prize for the least frugal.

Members from the South and Midwest were more fiscally conservative than their colleagues from the East.

Analysts note that serious budget reduction will only happen when Congress attacks Medicare, Medicaid and welfare spending. There could be a wait. Republicans say they will wait for Democrats, who they claim demagogued entitlements during the campaign, to make the first move. Reining in spending on the three major targets, however, has not been a Democrat trait, according to the NTU.

Source: Perspective, "Breaking Bad Habits," Investor's Business Daily, January 22, 1997.


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