I'm On Board With This

Via SB7

The US Federal expenditures for 2007 were a total of $2.8 trillion. The US Federal expenditures for 2010 were $3.55 trillion. This is a more than 25% increase. Where has all of this increased spending gone, and why are the programs it went to fund so critical that cutting them is not a serious option? It's not like 2007 was the dark day of anarchy, lawlessness, and starving seniors. Originally the increase was 'stimulus spending' of various kinds, but it seems to have morphed from 'temporary increase' into 'permanent budget baseline,' and any talk of serious cutting is treated as beyond the pale by the media and the Democrats alike.

I'm of the opinion that going back to the 2007 budget (adjusted to account for population growth) should be a viable option, and would save something like $5-6 trillion over 10 years. It sounds (to me) both simple and feasible. What am I missing?"


  1. morganovich:

    imagine you are an idiot.

    now imagine you are a member of congress.

    but i repeat myself.

    -mark twain

  2. Dr. T:

    "... going back to the 2007 budget... sounds (to me) both simple and feasible. What am I missing?”

    An extra 1.6 trillion dollars a year to bail-out California, appease unions, add more government workers (with higher pay and more benefits), fund "green" energy scams, pay-off favored corporations such as GE, and put TSA personnel and nudie scanners at every airport, subway station, train depot, and bus depot in the USA.

  3. Borepatch:

    A lot of the increase is in entitlements, particularly Medicare and Medicaid. Not all, of course, but the budget problem won't ever get solved without fixing the runaway growth there. Neither party wants to touch this.

  4. CT_Yankee:

    It sounds (to me) both simple and feasible. What am I missing?”

    Congress is not looking for and does not want a simple and feasible solution, because they are enjoying the current situation. Any solution to "you're spending too much" will likely involve "spending less", and how much fun is that?

    If your nation has a problem with theft (of the taxpayer's money), incarceration of thiefs sounds simple and feasible. Congress is still unlikely to vote itself a nice long prison sentence.

  5. Brandon Berg:

    The major differences between 2007 and 2010 are:
    Military: $142B
    Medicare: $76B
    Other Health: $103B
    Income Security: $256B
    Social Security: $121B
    Interest: -$41B
    Other: $54B

    Looks like most of this is baby boomers retiring and the lingering effects of the recession. The latter will go away, but the former will not.

    The 2011 projections show Other spending being jacked up by an additional $160B in 2011. Not sure what that's about.

  6. Brandon Berg:

    As percentages of the 2007 baseline:

    Military: 26%
    Medicare: 39%
    Other Health: 59%(!)
    Income Security: 70%(!#$@)
    Social Security: 21%
    Other: 17%

  7. GoneWithTheWind:

    What you are missing is that then the unions won't vote for you and you will lose the next election

  8. Daublin:

    Based on Brandon's breakdown, it looks like the increase is largely due to pet projects of Obama. Other posters are lumping these things as "other welfare" to try and soften the blow, but it is worth noting that this is *new* welfare, things that weren't covered in 2007.

    If so, then this is a classic situation where new blood can break a logjam. Obama cannot easily reverse on all these things without losing face. A new person could.

  9. MikeinAppalachia:

    I'm just glad so many "Boomers" are apparently retiring early, at least those in the private sector. That will help maintain the pyramid scheme a little longer.

  10. ed:

    Thanks, Brandon.

    It looks to me like very little of this can be blamed on Obama.

    I think most of the "income security" category is unemployment benefits, which are higher because unemployment is so high. Most economists think this has a stabilizing effect on the economy, making recessions milder than they otherwise would be.

    I TOTALLY agree that we need to reign in the growth of social security and medicare in the long run, but it is very difficult to just cut them now. I don't think even the Tea Party Republicans are proposing anything like that.

    Most of this spending is in long existing term "mandatory" programs that Obama didn't create; they are authorized by congress, and he doesn't even have authority to change them.

    I don't know why military spending is so much higher...anybody know?

  11. ed:

    The more I think about it, I'm amazed that anyone would think that simply going back to 2007 expenditures is "simple and feasible." I think if you try to flesh out the details, you'll find it's not so simple.

    Cutting everyone's social security check by 15% or whatever is at least technically feasible, but it is politically impossible, and could be a hardship for people who retired expecting they would receive the specified monthly benefit. Enacting reforms to slow the long term growth seems like a better idea to me.

    Cutting Medicare expenditures is not even technically easy. What would you do, set up a commission of people to decide what treatments would be denied? That sounds like exactly the kind of thing that made Republicans scream bloody murder during the health care debate. And in any case it would take a while to set up. Any other ideas?

    Stopping unemployment benefits would be technically feasible, but beyond being a hardship to those who can't find jobs in our crappy economy, it would cause a drop in consumer demand that could make the slum even worse.

    Some Federal employees could be cut in the long run, but it's hard to figure out how to do it sensibly in the short run. We need lots of them just to keep things functioning (e.g. IRS, federal courts, customs, FAA, etc. etc. etc.) I suppose we could just cut their wages down to 2007 levels, but that won't make a very big dent in the problem at all.

    Seriously, what am I missing?

  12. the other coyote:

    My personal opinion is we have to get past the 30,000 foot view of entitlements.

    Here is a link to who and what the SSA paid out in June, 2011.


    $41 billion per month. Paul Ryan wasn't kidding when he said half the country is taking money from the government.

    Notice how much money is being dragged out of the system under outdated views of who needs what. Example: Widows get money just because they are widows. The children of deceased workers get money - even if the parents are divorced. The United States is not a country of helpless housewives any more; it has been a 2-income and/or single parent family country for YEARS. Plenty of "widows" make more than their deceased spouses ever did. Plenty of single parents have grown accustomed to supporting their kids without any contribution from their ex-spouses.

    And look at how much money is being dragged out of the system by people who don't appear to have a need for it. SS pays out to the dependent parents of retired workers. What is that all about? Shouldn't your parents support themselves? Why am I being asked to support two generations of retirees? Also, SS pays out to the under 18 children of retired workers. Why are they having kids, in retirement [AT THAT AGE EVEN] if they can't afford them without taxpayer money? Look at all the people getting SSI - which is "money we give you because you're poor." Some quick math - and please correct me if I'm wrong, because I really want to be - and I came up with the conclusion that more than 2% of the US population is drawing a disability-related check. Is 2% of the population - one in every 50 people - really and truly incapable of working? How are so many people able to pull that scam? Where is the break in the gatekeeping system?

    Only between 1/2 and 2/3 of the people drawing a SS check are over 65. And I'm going to guess that some number of those people are dead, thanks to direct deposit (if you have granny's ATM card, why would you ever tell SS that she's dead?)

    Clearly there is fraud, waste, abuse, and malingering going on in this system. Just saying "oh, we can't touch entitlements" isn't going to fix the problem. OK, let's leave the retired people between 65 and 85 alone... for now. But somebody needs to go eyeball every single person over, say, 100 who's still drawing a SS check. Then everybody over 95. Then everybody over 85. Then start looking at everybody between 18 and 64 getting a check. Then we start cutting the dependents of dead recipients. Then, at the end of the day, we have to change how much you can take out of the system based on what you put in. Period.

    I would venture to guess that every commenter on this board knows somebody working the system. When I was in high school, there was a lady who boarded an Arabian horse at the stable where I worked to support my own horse. She dressed beautifully and came to the barn in her Cadillac every day to ride her horse. Yes, I said ride. And she drew a Social Security disability check. A woman who works for my bro-in-law brags that she gets more money from the SSA for her kids than she ever got in child support from her ex (the kids' father died racing a crotch rocket out on the highway). And the best part is: She has a job as a hairdresser and makes twice as much money (mostly in cash tips) than her ex-husband ever did. But the SSA treats her kids like they are one step from the poorhouse and pays her like $1500 a month and will until those kids are 18. The rules of this system are antiquated and stupid, and we're all getting played by the people smart enough to milk the system.

    The problem is creating an incentive to change the system stupidity and to root out the fraud. Rudy Guiliani claimed to have cleaned up New York by sending the desk cops back on the street. I doubt sending the SS administration desk jockeys out to eyeball suspect classes of beneficiaries would produce any useful work product, but there's got to be a way. Here's my suggestion. Cut the budgets of the SSA and HHS back to 2000 levels. Then let them make up their "shortfalls" by bounty hunting. The agency can keep every dollar they prevent from going out to bogus recipients, or it can just die. I see this as a win win.