Even with the Reagan budget cuts, the budget is larger this year than last. That is true also of expenditures for the poor, with the estimates for fiscal 1981 at $239.2 billion and for 1982 at $263.6 billion. Even with the Reagan tax cuts, we are all paying more taxes this year--$20 billion. Either out of stupidity or out of willfulness, multitudes of our pols are making the economic debate seem more complicated than it is. The exquisite truth of the matter is that our federal budget grows more obese every day, and while the honorable gentlemen on Capitol Hill solemnize over the grave deficits and the heartless budget cuts only the president and a handful of stalwarts are taking action to restrain the beast and to return vigor to the economy that sustains us all.
You might recall that at the outset of his administration the president asked for a $695.5 billion budget for fiscal 1982. Now, despite the president's fabled niggardliness, that $695.5 billion budget has increased to $722 billion, and the deficit has grown from an estimated $45 billion to an estimated $109 billion. Why does it grow even against the wishes of the Great Miser in the White House? It grows because of interest on that national debt that the solons have been so blissfully amassing for over two decades. It grows because of the entitlement programs of our milch-cow state, programs devised so recklessly by the pols that they can increase whether there are funds available or not, and whether taxpayers have approved or not. Then too, the budget grows because so very few of our modern-day Alexander Hamiltons are able to say no to lobbyists with outstretched palms. With all these leeches on the budget does anyone really believe that the president's tax cuts are to blame for that huge deficit? Congressman Jack Kemp is estimating that 80 percent of OMB's projected deficits will result from economic slowdown, causing tax revenues to drop and entitlement costs to rise.
Suzanne Garment, The Wall Street Journal's indefatigably fruitful spy in Washington, put it just so when she observed that the Republic's politics suffer from "a failure of responsibility" particularly in the Republic's legislative branch. Think of such fabled conservatives as the Hon. Jesse Helms and the Hon. Howard Baker pleading for economies in government and blandly greasing the skids for farm subsidies and giant waterways projects. Think of such extravagant Democrats as the Hon. Henry S. Reuss setting off sirens over last week's estimated budget deficit of $109 billion. For two decades these spendthrifts have jeered and hooted at any sourpuss unwilling to go along with their red ink, ballooning budgets, higher taxes and higher inflation. And dwell on the blubbering of such artists as Detroit Mayor Coleman Young, "There is no safety net. It's been ripped to shreds." Half of our federal budget goes to pay for that safety net. In 1979 George Gilder tells us the average welfare of four received almost $18,000 worth of subsidies, making the inducements of welfare a leading cause of American "poverty" and all the social problems that go with it. In the 1950s only one fifth of our budget went toward such programs. How is it that with this enormous increase in social spending things are now so desperate for the poor?
Moreover what would all the grumblers have us do as an alternative to the president's modest cuts? If they are opposed to deficits and to budget cuts what is their alternative? They believe that the taxpayer must pay more! Some will say that the military must get less, but at the rate our budget fattens that economy would matter little. Of course thanks to bracket creep and to increases in the social security tax even with the Reagan tax cuts we are paying more. Just how much more do the honorable gentlemen believe we should pay? Their government agencies--federal, local, and state--now slurp up some 40 percent of the nation's wealth. In listening to their lamentations over how little money is available today for government good works, it becomes apparent that the pols are not satisfied with 40 percent. They want still more of your payroll check.
That is the nub of their rancorous opposition to the Reagan cuts. We have reached that point in our history when the expense of government thanks to the imprudence of legislators has simply blasted through the roof. It is heading for the moon, and the pols' only response is to cavil and to strut, and to raise your taxes.