The Era of Big Government is Alive and Well


Thank a Republican today.

Washington Post:

Confounding President Bush's pledges to rein in government growth, federal discretionary spending expanded by 12.5 percent in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, capping a two-year bulge that saw the government grow by more than 27 percent, according to preliminary spending figures from congressional budget panels…

The federal government spent nearly $826 billion in fiscal 2003, an increase of $91.5 billion over 2002, said G. William Hoagland, a senior budget and economic aide to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.). Military spending shot up nearly 17 percent, to $407.3 billion, but nonmilitary discretionary spending also far outpaced Bush's limit, rising 8.7 percent, to $418.6 billion.

Much of the increase was driven by war in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as homeland security spending after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. But spending has risen on domestic programs such as transportation and agriculture, as well. Total federal spending—including non-discretionary entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid—reached $2.16 trillion in 2003, a 7.3 percent boost, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

NEXT: This Bud's Not For You

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I’m Grumpy Bob, and I approved this message, because YOU ALL SUCK!

  2. We have got to persuade the GOP congress to say “No” to Bush’s big spending agenda, as they did to Clinton’s. We should contact them and tell them if they want our votes we expect them to cut spending. Go to to see how your congress person and senatore’s voting records rate on spending issues. They must hear from us and the federal juggernaut must be halted if liberty is not to expire. We should be fighting the prescription drug bill. If this passes it will be yet another huge “entitlement” program. Contact the Dems. as well. Fiscal frugality is a much harder sell with them. (this will be clear after going to But, its worth a try. And, we must try.

    As to Pat Buchanan:
    If our government’s foreign policy paralleled Pat Buchanan’s advice, we would have less federal spending and most likley, a safer world as well.

  3. The Libertarian Party has run thousands of candidates for office across the country in the past couple of decades. The media always like to concentrate on the wackos and oddballs, as they tend to do for all third parties (and for the major parties as well, before primary elections). Yet, there are many serious, qualified Libertarian candidates as well. In recent years, voters have seen fit to elect several hundred of them and re-elect an increasing number of them.

    At your next opportunity, if you REALLY want to see government size, intrusion, and spending go down — not just grow slowly, but actually decrease — please give some serious thought to any Libertarian candidates on your ballot.

    In the last twenty years, we have seen practically every possible mixture of Republicans and Democrats in power between the states and the federal government, and between the three branches of the federal government. Or at least, we have seen enough combinations to conclude that the two-party, good-cop/bad-cop routine is a scam that can’t end well. We HAVEN’T tried very hard to populate the government with candidates who ran under independent or third-party banners. Yet voters who tried out Libertarians at lower levels of government have often re-elected them, and at least learned that the sky didn’t fall with Libertarians in office.

    You may not find any Libertarians on your ballot next time. Or you may decide that you don’t like any of them. Fair enough. But at least please hear them out and give them a fair chance to earn your vote.

  4. The article leaves me with one nagging question: What is the total increase in nonmilitary discretionary spending minus emergency-related and homeland security items?

    All in all, the news is very disappointing.

  5. On the contrary, Robert, The article doesn’t leave anything out. The simple and straightforward fact is that Bush is simply not a conservative by any measure, particularly not the fiscal.

    Pat Buchanan has a new piece on explicating the other big problem of the Bush administration: an arrogant and nonsensical foreign policy — check it out

  6. Frenk, I don’t plan on going to that article, but Pat Buchanan is the last person I’d listen to on foreign policy issues.

  7. Jumpin’ jeezus – can Bill Clinton run again in 2004? Time to bring a fiscal conservative back into office.

  8. Andy D.: I am a scholar, and as I scholar I don’t comment on things I have not read. It just makes you look silly. Nor do I argue with people who haven’t read the piece under discussion. When you have read the article, I’ll be glad to have a substantive exchange.

    I don’t always agree with Buchanan, but he has been right on about Bush.

  9. Actually rather than Clinton we need Gingrich: The evil extremist who wanted to restrain the growth of federal spending by a few points per year over 10 years.

    In 2 decades marginal tax rates in the U.S. are going to make Sweden look like Hong Kong.

  10. man…were sure luckly ALGORE wasn’t elected aren’t we?

  11. The Republicans are only expanding the government to remain popular. Once they have an absolute iron-clad grip on power, THEN they’ll downsize the government. Honestly. Really. You can trust them. They’re from the government, and they’re here to help.

  12. Unfortunately, outside of media outlets like Reason, the administration and the congress are not getting much criticism for overspending. When the mainstream media have been shouting for fiscal “conservatism”, the call has almost exclusively gone to repealing the tax cuts, despite the plain fact that this rate of growth in spending is clearly unsustainable tax cuts or no tax cuts. Rhetorically, the Democrats have been even worse, not only calling for higher taxes but complaining that this uncontrolled growth in discretionary spending is not enough, there must be more to “fully fund” education and other big government programs.

  13. I agree with thoreau.
    The question then becomes: “How addictive is big government spending?”
    My governor, BTW, is Boob Taft, poster boy for tax and spend Republican.

  14. Concerned Citizen:

    Re: the Gingrich remark — Actually, CC, after the so-called “Republican Revolution” of 1994, Gingrich actually shepherded a bill through the Republican-controlled House of Reps that subsidized sheep farmers and the wool industry to the tune of something like $50 million.

    It would be nice to believe that the root problem is who has their hands on the levers of power, but it’s not. The real problem is the power itself…vast amounts of it need to be taken away from the Federal gov’t. We need an outspoken and assertive political movement whose entire focus is reducing the power and size of the Federal gov’t.

    And that’s why I support the Libertarian Party (or as my progressive leftish wife likes to call it, the “Crazy Party”). The only party in existence who wish to be elected to power in order to give it away to the people.

    (This is NOT a paid advertisement of the Libertarian Party, nor does it reflect the views and opinions of the Libertarian Party. Have a swell day.)

  15. EMAIL:
    DATE: 01/26/2004 08:28:10
    Study without thinking, and you are blind; think without studying, and you are in danger.

  16. EMAIL:
    DATE: 05/20/2004 08:25:49
    Only the hand that erases can write the true thing.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.