NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Big Spenders Dominate Capitol Hill

October 3, 2000

The federal government will probably spend $1.8 trillion in fiscal year 2001, which began Oct. 1. Two-thirds of that amount will be spent on entitlement programs -- which Congress doesn't control year to year. The remaining one-third Capitol Hill parcels out in 13 yearly spending bills.

So far, only two of those bills have become law -- one for defense and one for military construction. Political observers say the defense budget provides the best cover for hiding pet pork-barrel projects.

  • Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.) has identified $7 billion worth of such projects in the defense spending law and another $900 million buried in the military construction law.
  • The projects range from a provision in the defense spending bill allocating $8.5 million to the Gallo Center to "study the effects of alcohol on the brain" to $900,000 for the Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, R.I., to convert an abandoned bank building for the company's use.
  • Then there's a half-million dollars to preserve farmland in Skagit County, Wash., and a quarter-million for road work on Route 1 in Howard County, Md.

"The budget process as it has existed since the Budget Enforcement Act of 1990 is really near collapse," observes Rudolph Penner, senior fellow with the Urban Institute and former director of the Congressional Budget Office in the mid-1980s.

Source: Daniel J. Murphy, "An End of 'Era of Big Government'? Not While Pork Spending Continues," Investor's Business Daily, October 3, 2000.


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