NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Spending Up

September 8, 2003

Public ardor for a Medicare prescription drug benefit may be cooling, according to Investor's Business Daily, as the impact on already rapidly rising federal expenditures becomes clearer.

  • According to the administration's latest estimate, federal outlays in fiscal 2003 will hit $2.12 trillion -- 10 percent more than in 2002, which was 7.9 percent above the 2001 level.
  • Throughout the 1990s, by comparison, annual spending increases averaged just 3.3 percent before inflation.
  • These figures do not include the President's request last night for supplemental appropriations of $87 billion for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • However, Stephen Moore of the Club for Growth recently noted that discretionary nondefense spending rose 20.7 percent over two years in the last Congress.

Passing the Medicare drug benefit bill now in conference committee would add a huge spending commitment to future budgets. An economic forecast just released by the National Center for Policy Analysis says the drug bill would add as much as $12 trillion to the government future unfunded liabilities -- on top of the existing $30.5 trillion Medicare shortfall.

Source: Editorial, "Think Smaller," Investor's Business Daily, September 8, 2003; see also, Jagadeesh Gokhale and Kent Smetters, "Piling Up Future Debts," Brief Analysis No. 453, September 4, 2003, National Center for Policy Analysis.

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