Congress and the Budget

August 4, 2000

Do you remember back to 1994 when Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives with its Contract with America? The newly elected Congress promised reform and downsizing of government. Well, six years later, the promise rings hollow. A recent Cato Institute report documents that Congress is on track for the biggest spending increases since the 1970s when Jimmy Carter sat in the Oval Office and Tip O'Neill was Speaker of the House.

The study shows that despite promises of downsizing government, few programs have been eliminated and federal spending is surging at the fastest clip in more than 20 years.

Total federal non-defense spending is projected to grow by 11 percent from 1999 to 2001. This is the largest increase since a 12 percent jump during the 95th Congress which met in 1977.

The authors say that "Many of the more than 200 programs that the Republicans pledged to eliminate in 1995 in their Contract with America fiscal blueprint now have fatter budgets than they had before the changing of the guard." They examined the 95 largest programs on the GOP's hit list and found that their combined budgets had increased by 13 percent over the past five years.

Why did this happen? The authors take us back to the confrontation between President Clinton and the Republican Congress that led to a budget showdown and a government shutdown. The Republicans tried to unplug a multitude of programs all at once. Once they lost the battle to President Clinton, the GOP became gun shy and decided it shouldn't shoot at anything at all.

So today Congress is spending faster than ever before. And maybe you should remember that when you go to the polls in November. The voters spoke up in 1994. Perhaps it's time for them to speak up again six years later.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.