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Federal Government Spending

The American Voice Institute of Public Policy believes the federal government spends far too much money and operates too many programs.

The U.S.Congress during the 1970's when Thomas "Tip" O'Neil was Speaker of the House and Jimmy Carter was President, gained the reputation of being the largest spending Congress on domestic social programs. Today, the 106th Congress is on its way to topping these spending levels.

Under the budget resolutions approved by Congress in April 2000, total federal non-defense spending is estimated to grow in real terms by $33 billion, or 11 percent from 1999 to 2001. Unfortunately, this is a "best-case" scenario, for just about every constituency in Washington from environmentalists to road builders, to the teachers' unions and universities, Congress and the White House are almost certain to add billions more to a budget crammed with special interest spending.

The first year of Republican congressional control called for the elimination of more than 200 federal programs that had been identified as ineffective, obsolete, counterproductive or unconstitutional. Also, three whole cabinet-level departments -- education, energy and commerce -- were included on the list.

Between 1996 and 2000, the domestic budget was not reduced; instead it was increased by 14 percent. The very programs that were targeted for elimination by the Contract with America are at the center of this federal spending growth. Total spending has increased from $41.2 billion to $46.6 billion, or 13 percent, from 1995 to 2000 among the 95 largest domestic programs slated for removal. Additionally, the three cabinet departments scheduled for closure have increased in spending by eight percent.

Spending increased $187 billion beyond the cap baseline when comparing the spending increases between 1996 and 2000. This spending exceeded the reviewed cap by more than $40 billion even after considering the spending caps agreed to by congressional leaders and the White House as part of the 1997 budget deal.

Tragically, some of the programs congressional leaders vowed to eliminate have seen more funding poured in, and some of the programs regularly sited by Republicans as examples of government waste and abuse continue. President Clinton's Americorps program, for example, in 1995 received $81 million and has grown to $282 million or 248 percent. Also, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting budget has grown 11 percent this year from $286 million to $318 million. Once targeted for extinction for purveying homocratic and sacrilegious art work, the National Endowment for the Arts maintains an $11 million budget although it has been reduced by 37 percent.

In 1995, the twenty-first century community learning centers had a budget of just $4 million. Since then, the program has escalated to $453 million, an astounding 43,237 percent increase in 2000.

Large increases have been observed in education programs frequently targeted by conservatives such as Goals 2000 and School-to-Work. School-to-Work increased by 98 percent ($62 million) and Goals 2000 increased by 112 percent ($259 million).

Since 1996 alone, total federal outlays have reached an astounding $1.8 trillion which is 20 percent of the nation's entire wealth. Along with government spending, the gross domestic product (gdp) has increased by more than 50 percent. (Office of Management and Budget, Historical Tables, Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2000, Table 8.1, p. 117).

The American Voice Institute of Public Policy believes the large paternalistic government in America has grown out of control. As we begin the new century, the nation is basically content, more prosperous and highly productive. Fortunately for now, pride and joy in filling their own needs has taken most Americans. To those who need help and are not yet able to share in the general prosperity, religious and civic organizations in local communities continue to provide assistance. National security, an efficient judicial system and a sound foreign policy are the only services really desired by Americans from their duly-elected federal representatives.

In just 10 years, federal domestic discretionary (or appropriate) spending has increased from $181 billion in 1990 to over $300 billion in 2000, an increase of 65 percent (2 Ibid). Since 1990, total federal alays have risen $60.0 billion (3 Ibid). During the same period, economic growth in the private sector has increased federal revenues from $1 trillion to $1.9 trillion. Despite the government's lack of fiscal discipline, for the first time in a generation the result has been sustained federal budget surplus. (4 Ibid, table 1.4, p. 26).

The American Voice Institute of Public Policy believes the federal government should focus on its core responsibilities and perform them well.

The federal bureaucracy must be more accountable for producing results for the money it spends. To fund 19 broad budget function categories, the federal budget contains over 1,500 line items. A government full of redundant, obsolete and overlapping programs that simultaneously hide waste, fraud, and abuse has resulted from the sloppy and unaccountable federal budget process.

Tax revenues have increased by $735 billion since 1993 when President Clinton took office. Greed is displayed when Washington takes dollars from families' hard-earned paychecks to fund political pork. The American Voice Institute believes that to bring federal bloat under control, government spending should be reduced and returned to taxpayers in the form of tax cuts and budget surpluses.

The American Voice Institute of Public Policy believes to the level of government closest to the people involved, programs and policy implementation should be devolved.

The American Voice Institute of Public Policy believes that middle-class entitlements and corporate welfare should not be used by policymakers as a way to gain popular support for projects that are wasteful.

The American Voice Institute of Public Policy believes that tangible benefits will be delivered to every American when there will be a committed effort to reduce the scope and size of the federal government and when surplus tax revenues result to return them in the form of tax cuts or rebates.

Federal Regulation

Between April 1, 1996 and September 30, 1999, federal regulatory agencies issued 15,280 final rules and sent them to Congress for review according to the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO). Over 200 were defined as major rules -- rules that will have an annual effect on the economy of more than $100 million. (7 data provided to the Heritage Foundation by the U.S. General Accounting Office from its database of ruled under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act.)

The Federal Register, the daily government publication in which all proposed and final legislation regulations are announced, was 68,511 pages long -- 4,000 pages longer than in 1997 by the end of 1998 than in 1997. (Pages count without blank pages. Historical data table provided by office of the Federal Register).

An annual listing of executive agency regulations published in the Federal Register, that includes all regulations currently in effect, is called the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The CFR filled 201 volumes with a total of 134,723 pages and occupied 19 feet of shelf space in 1998. The CFR filled 114 volumes with a total of 54,834 pages in 1970 (9. Historical data table provided by Office of the Federal Register).

The CFR grew by more than 32,000 pages (about 80 volumes) between 1980 and 1998. It grew by 28,000 pages between the end of 1976 and the end of 1980.

The number of pages in the Federal Register declined by more than 22,642 from an all-time high of 73,258 pages in 1980 (President Jimmy Carter's last year in office) to 50,616 pages in 1988 during the eight-year Presidency of Ronald Reagan (ibid).

The American Voice Institute of Public Policy believes the public must be given better information by federal regulatory agencies that clearly articulate their regulatory strategies, outcomes and goals. For their decisions, Congress and the President must use their authority to hold federal agencies accountable for ensuring the intended objective of those decisions achieved. Transparent and non-discriminatory enforcement of regulation and an appeals process must be included.

The American Voice Institute of Public Policy believes that by focusing on making smarter decisions to maximize benefits, minimize costs, and save more lives, the debate on social regulation (regulation of the environment, public health, and safety) must be reframed. Harvard University demonstrates that about 60,000 lives are lost as a result of the current regulatory system. This is the result of billions of dollars that are squandered on eliminating negligible or nonexistent risks, while failing to protect the public from other more serious hazards. (Tammy G. Tens and John P. Graham, "The Opportunity Costs of Haphazard Social Investments in Life-Saving," in Robert W. Hahn, ed. Risks, Costs and Lives Saved; New York: Oxford University Press, 1996). The American Voice Institute of Public Policy believes that to assist Congress in making smarter decisions, risk-based regulatory priorities are required.

The American Voice Institute of Public Policy believes deregulation of some industries works as has been demonstrated by the deregulatory success of the late 1970's and early 1980's in the airline, natural gas, railway, and interstate trucking industries. To such industries as electricity and telecommunications, deregulation is still needed.

By offering Americans a myriad of new goals and services for business and pleasure, the United States economy and way of life is being revolutionized by the rise of the Internet, electronic commerce and other new communications technologies. However, bureaucrats appear to be eager to impose new taxes and regulations as quickly as new technologies or trends develop.

Tragically, federal agencies increasingly impose ineffective costly regulations on individuals and businesses. To improve public health and safety, they do little. Simply wrong is the traditional rhetoric of those that support the current regulatory system that increases regulation to save lives.

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