- The Washington Times - Friday, March 2, 2001

A culmination of spending irresponsibility occurred last year as Congress passed a slew of spending increases. By the time Congress and President Clinton were done, budget authority for fiscal 2001 discretionary spending, which includes the non-mandatory programs from national defense to national parks to the FBI, reached $635 billion. In 2001 alone, budget authority for discretionary spending increased by nearly 9 percent over the 2000 level. Moreover, the 2001 spending level was $93 billion above the $542 billion spending cap for 2001 established in 1997.

When legislated spending increases in mandatory programs Social Security and Medicare, for example were added to the heap, the nonpartisan, authoritative Congressional Budget Office (CBO) concluded in a January report that "Congress and the president have enacted legislation that, CBO estimates, increases projected spending over the 2001-2010 period by $561 billion." Note well: CBO was talking about the 10-year impact of spending decisions made only during the previous several months. While fiscal 2001 spending would increase by only $12 billion, the effect of the spending orgy would raise fiscal 2010 spending by $83 billion. For the 2002-2011 period, which Mr. Bush's budget proposal covers, the irresponsible decisions made late last year will increase spending by nearly $650 billion.

What all of the above tells us is that the evidence is now irrefutable. Unless Mr. Bush's proposal to reduce taxes by $1.6 trillion over 10 years is enacted, Congress will surely spend those funds. It can't help itself. Democrats are offering a 10-year plan that would reduce taxes by $900 billion (in fact, it is an income-redistribution scheme) and increase "investments" (i.e., new spending) by $900 billion. After last year's spectacle in which decisions made over a few months increased spending by nearly $650 billion, who can possibly believe that Democrats would be content over the next 10 years with raising additional spending by only $900 billion?

Mr. Bush's proposal to increase discretionary budget authority by 4 percent next year or by less than half of last year's rate of increase but still greater than inflation is by far the more responsible alternative. And unless taxes are reduced by at least $1.6 trillion, Congress will surely find a way to spend these unconscionable overpayments extracted by government from working families as the past few years have clearly demonstrated.

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