by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Partisans of all stripes agree there’s too much of a mismatch between the amount of revenue (mostly taxes) the federal government brings in and the amount of money it spends. While much of the discussion about fixing that mismatch has focused on the revenue side of the ledger, David Hogberg writes for Investor’s Business Daily about the more important piece of the problem: government overspending.
Federal government revenue rose from $1.7 trillion to $2.4 trillion from fiscal 1998 to 2012, slightly exceeding inflation. Revenue growth averaged 2.9% annually, despite two recessions, bear markets — and tax cuts.
But federal spending rose nearly twice as fast — 5.7% per year — surging from $1.6 trillion to $3.5 trillion over that same span.
The spending spike also exceeds growth in the population.
Some of the spending surge came during the Bush administration — the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, increases in non-defense discretionary spending and the creation of the Medicare prescription drug entitlement.
But spending accelerated under Obama. While he inherited a budget increase from Bush in fiscal 2009, an omnibus bill he signed plus his stimulus package helped boost spending $535 billion in his first year, hiking total spending from $2.9 trillion in 2008 to $3.5 trillion in 2009. Spending has never returned to the already-high 2008 level even after controlling for inflation.