The Corner

All Aboard the Federal Gravy Train

Federal spending is growing by leaps and bounds. The budget hit $3.9 trillion this year, double the level of spending just eight years ago. The government is also increasing the scope of its activities, intervening in many areas that used to be left to state and local governments, businesses, charities, and individuals.

By 2008, there were 1,804 different subsidy programs in the federal budget. Hundreds of programs were added this decade—ranging from a $62 billion prescription drug plan to a $1 million anti-drug education grant—and the recent stimulus bill added even more. We are in the midst of the largest federal gold rush since the 1960s.

For more details about the number and scope of the federal subsidy programs read this new Cato Institute Tax and Budget Bulletin. You will learn, for instance, that the number of subsidy programs has increased by 54 percent since 1990 and has reached the all-time high of 1,804. Much of the increase comes from farm programs, of course, but also from homeland-security programs which subsidize local activities such as firefighting.

The report concludes:

It is very sad that the nation founded on individualism and limited government has more people than ever suckling at the federal subsidy teat. President Barack Obama has proposed a wide range of new subsidies in energy, health care, and other areas. If enacted, they would take America further away from the individual reliance, voluntary charity, and entrepreneurialism that made it so prosperous in the first place.

Read the whole thing here.

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