Jason Croucher, writing in the Kansas Jackass blog, says that we’re spending trillions on the Iraq war and little domestically. Is this really the case?
A running tally of the cost of the war from CostOfWar.com is at about $605 billion. That’s in line with other estimates. It’s true the war is going to continue to cost a lot for some time, and the cost may well exceed $1 trillion at some time in the future, but that’s a lot different from saying “all those trillions spent in Iraq.”
Then there’s this from Croucher: “Ah, but then, suddenly, the federal government did something they haven’t done in years — they actually spend [sic] some money domestically!”
I realize that Croucher is exaggerating a bit — okay, a lot — in order to be sensational and amuse his readers. But to say that federal domestic spending hasn’t been increasing is far from factual.
Croucher may have been relying on material such as that presented by the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. (This might be the case if he’s doing any actual research when forming his opinions instead of parroting leftist talking points.) Their analysis shows that federal domestic spending is growing less rapidly than defense and security spending for the period 2001 through 2008. Relative to this spending, domestic spending is shrinking, they say.
This analysis, however, ignores the fact that spending has been increasing, and rapidly, too. Numbers will illustrate this.
The Heritage Foundation has a series of charts prepared from the historical tables of the U.S. budget. One chart, titled Since 9/11, Federal Spending Has Increased Much Faster Than Inflation, contains this analysis: “Total nominal spending has increased 97.6 percent since 1992, while the Consumer Price Index has increased a relatively modest 47 percent, which means that government spending is growing much faster than inflation. Less than half of the increase in federal spending came from defense and homeland security spending.”
So federal spending is growing, and it’s not all on the war and homeland security.
While the Iraq was is expensive, it’s nowhere near the budget-buster that Croucher might have you believe. The chart titled Despite War Costs, Defense Spending Falls Below Historical Average tells the story that even though defense spending is rising, it is still below — way below — spending in recent periods (as a percent of GDP) .
The spending whose absence Croucher laments has, in fact, been increasing rapidly — even during the recent Bush presidency. The chart Mandatory Spending Has Increased Almost Five Times Faster Than Discretionary Spending illustrates. The mandatory spending shown in this charts is mostly social security, Medicare, and Medicaid spending. That’s all domestic.
Remember too that it was George W. Bush who started the prescription drug benefit program for seniors. That’s an expensive program.