What is all the new spending since 2019? The answer is surprising, as shown in the two tables below. The main drivers of the recent increases have not been the largest three programs—Social Security, Medicare, and defense—but rather rapid growth in numerous other programs…
Some of the 2023 spending is temporary and should decline in coming years, such as the PBGC aid and education pandemic aid. Nonetheless, CBO projects baseline spending to rise at an annual average rate of 4.8 percent over the coming decade. The projections show that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid will be the main growth drivers ahead, but the past four years show that other programs will also grow rapidly if not controlled.
It’s hard to fathom that the Cato institute reports concludes with this:
Republicans led the way on spending increases in 2020, and then handed the big government baton to the Democrats for 2021 and 2022. Now some Republicans want to reverse course and leverage the upcoming debt limit debate to start cutting. What should they target?
How about a “last in first out” strategy? Reformers could push for cuts to the programs that have grown the most since 2019. Medicaid, food stamps, education aid, housing programs, welfare, the EPA, and international aid would all be good targets to downsize.
Imagine them wanting to cut Medicaid, food stamps, education, housing, welfare, the EPA, and international aid. I’m really surprised. Heh.
The gigantic increases - in real dollars - are Social Security, Treasury, and military. The rest is relative peanuts, but looks big in percentage points. Of course they’re comparing to a previous administration which was hostile to everything human related except military, so maybe the surprise is unwarranted, you think?
Every big shot wants to throw money around so he is popular. When the other guy is in power, you want to force him to be the bad guy by taking money away from people, so he is not reelected. Remember what went on with the first covid check? First, they were held up until new check stock could be printed with the name of the “benefactor” on them. Then, a few weeks after the check, a letter came in the mail saying, in effect, “I gave you money, aren’t I great?” Sometimes, I think I should have kept that letter, as a reminder how gullible people are thought to be by their leaders.
I thought it was Onion-like. A lot of the spending increase is driven by increases in Social Security and Medicare due to our aging population. We’ve been expecting and experiencing this for many decades. Unless we start pushing our seniors off onto ice flows like they do in Canada that’s going to continue. I think it is good we are taking care of our seniors, so I’m happy that we’re spending the money.
Another thing that happened is the population and economy got bigger, so the cost of running the country in general got bigger too. That’s not alarming or surprising.
And another that is that we’ve had a bout of inflation recently which makes the total dollars increase faster. Cato “forgot” to correct for inflation. But if you do, we find that discretionary spending increased by about 11% from 2019 to 2023, which is a CAGR of about 2.8%. That is not a particularly high rate of growth, and roughly the same as GDP growth. And Inflation-adjusted discretionary spending has actually decreased every year since 2020 (including defense spending, believe it or not).
One would think a trend of decreasing government spending in real terms would be good news for libertarians like the Cato Institute. But they choose not to see it like that.