NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 21, 2005

According to the most recent VoteTally survey of the 108th Congress (2003-2004), for every hour that it was in session, the Senate and the House of Representative each voted to raise federal spending by roughly $200 million, says the National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF).

Since 1994 the VoteTally cost accounting system has examined the entirety of Congress's spending decisions -- including votes on failed bills, vetoed measures and acquiescence to "mandatory" (such as entitlement) spending growth, says NTUF.

Among this year's 659 House and Senate votes:

  • The average Senator voted for $471 billion in annual nonentitlement spending and House members supported, on average, a yearly expenditure boost of $386.9 billion; that's an 83 percent and 101 percent increase, respectively, over the 107th Congress.
  • VoteTally totals were almost identical for Democrats ($397 billion) and Republicans ($378.1 billion) in the House, although party differences were somewhat greater in the Senate ($599.3 billion for Democrats versus $353.3 billion for Republicans).
  • The House and Senate considered a total of just 39 spending reductions in 2003-2004, worth a combined savings of $63.3 billion; just five of the amendments were adopted, for a potential cut of $5.04 billion.
  • The phrases "fiscally responsible, " "fiscal discipline," "fiscal responsibility," "fiscal irresponsibility" and "fiscally irresponsible" appeared 2,740 times in the 2003-2004 Congressional Record, an increase of nearly 53 percent compared to the 107th Congress.

However, the conclusion of the 108th Congress marked the fourth consecutive year in which no lawmaker had a net voting record that would have reduced overall outlays.

By failing to bring down expenditures, elected officials are putting taxpayers on the road to higher taxes and lower economic growth in the future, says NTUF.

Source: Editorial, "Study Tracks Record Breakdown in Congress's Fiscal Discipline; No Lawmakers Had Net Voting Records to Reduce Spending Last Year," Capital IDEAS, vol. 13, no. 5, September/October 2005; based upon: Jeff Dircksen, "Closed Doors and Closed Minds: The 108th Congress's Missed Opportunities to Cut Federal Spending, " National Taxpayers Union Foundation, September 1, 2005.

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