Today the US Senate began debating the House-passed bill that would fund government operations through December 15 in a “continuing resolution” budget process and also defund the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The Politico reports Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, referred to Tea Party advocates and conservatives as “fanatics” and as “anarchists.”
Point of order, Mr. Reid. An anarchist believes that there should be no government. But the chart below captures government spending on a per capita basis since nigh unto the beginning of the Republic. (Yes, the chart is adjusted for inflation.) Clearly there is no lack of government presence in our everyday lives. The 20th Century, with the rise of the liberal progressive movement, saw an explosion of federal spending and a far expanded role for Uncle Sam. Even to the point where the FY 2013 US Government budget is nearly twice the level of spending that was incurred to finance World War II.
So to refer to people who believe in budget reductions and a more modest role for the federal government as “anarchists” clearly fails to establish any logical nexus with reality. Ah, but this is politics and budget making in Washington DC! What hath logic and reality to do with budgets?!
But as you see the line of spending per person marching ever upward, the numbers don’t tell the complete story. What is the government doing with all this money? As progressive statists like to ask, “if it weren’t for the federal government, who would build roads?!” But the federal government doesn’t spend any considerable portion of its budget on road-building.
Nearly 65 percent of the federal budget goes to transfer payments–a literal taking of money from some and distribution to others. These are the big item programs that many are familiar with: Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, and paying interest on the existing national debt. These programs require no annual appropriation from the Congress, no debate on program effectiveness, no debate on financial sustainability, and no debate on appropriate spending levels. The annual budget growth for these programs is as close to being “on auto pilot” as one can get.
To the 65 percent of the budget above, another 25 percent pays for defense expenses. A large military presence with over 900 installations and more troops deployed outside of the US in non-combat operations than in combat roles is a debate for another day. (E.g., for an unknown reason, the US maintains approximately 9,000 troops in the UK–perhaps to colonize our former mother country?)
If you’ve done the math, then you know that there’s only about 10 percent of the overall federal budget pie left. That’s 1 dollar for every 10 collected for federal support of education, federal law enforcement, even to build all the roads that the progressives insist we must pay higher taxes for. This is the portion of the budget Congress actually debates on an annual basis with any real impact to spending.
This is the small part of the budget that funds the IRS to produce Star Trek parody videos and harass the Tea Party that Harry Reid loves so much. This is where the Department of Homeland Security finds billions of dollars to stockpile more ammunition per person than the US Army. This is where the Environmental Protection Agency finds money to harass farmers. This is where NASA is funded not to conduct manned space missions but to engage in Muslim outreach, to make them feel better about their historical contributions to science. This is where the NSA finds funding to violate the Bill of Rights’s Fourth Amendment guarantees against government spying on its own law-abiding citizens. And on, and on, and on.
All of these things are examples of government encroachment on our freedom to conduct our everyday lives without government interference. We believe one of the things that has made America great is the power of the individual to strive to make the world better–using his or her individual freedom and a free marketplace. So we hope that Mr. Reid can forgive us if we have a very difficult time believing that he has any credibility whatsoever when he starts a food fight at the lunch table and calls anyone a “fanatic” or an “anarchist” who simply wants to curb the federal government’s ever-increasing lust for more money and more power at the expense of individual freedom and liberty.