- The Washington Times - Monday, November 14, 2005

Republicans are reportedly concerned about disaffected supporters who stayed home from last week’s off-year elections. Well, the Republican Party had better brace itself.

It is bad enough that annual federal spending since Republicans captured Congress in the 1994 elections has surged by nearly $1 trillion, rising to $2.473 billion this year. Representing a 63 percent increase in annual spending, that’s an average jump of nearly $100 billion per year for the entire decade. In fiscal 2005 alone, which ended Sept. 30, spending increased $181 billion over 2004. According to the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) baseline projections, which forecast entitlement spending based on current law and discretionary spending based on anticipated inflation, annual federal outlays are on track to soar to $3.134 billion in 2010. That $661 billion increase represents a rise of 27 percent.

Cumulative federal spending over the next five years will exceed $14.3 trillion, CBO estimates, averaging $2.861 billion per year. Relative to 2005, spending over the next five years would increase by $1.940 billion. In other words, average annual spending from 2006 through 2010, according to CBO baseline projections, will be $388 billion (per year) higher than 2005 spending. Yet the political party that once prided itself on its determination to maintain spending discipline has so far been failed to muster enough votes among its majority caucus in the House of Representatives to moderate this soaring growth rate of federal outlays by a reasonable $50 billion over five years.

As noted, CBO projects that spending in 2010 will be $661 billion higher than spending in 2005. A comparable pro rata share of the proposed five-year, $50 billion in spending moderation would allocate about $17 billion of that amount to 2010. That means that if the Republican-controlled House could approve the $50 billion in restraint, spending in 2010 (compared to 2005) would still increase by $644 billion, rather than $661 billion.

In fact, the Republican-led House already approved a five-year plan for entitlement-spending restraint that called for moderating the growth of such mandatory spending by $69 billion, nearly 40 percent above the $50 billion currently at issue. The $69 billion in restraint appeared in the five-year budget resolution, which the House passed in March. It was subsequently reduced to $35 billion in the House-Senate conference committee. Following the explosion in spending in response to Hurricane Katrina, House Republican leaders, thanks to commendable efforts by the conservative Republican Study Committee, have been prodded to seek five-year savings totaling $50 billion. By any reasonable calculation, this is a drop in the bucket of splurging federal outlays. No wonder the “stay-at-home” wing is so upset.

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