For those who believe the federal government has grown too large and its budget a threat to the nation's economic health. neither party has offered much in the way of good news over the last few years. The Republicans offered tax cuts while increasing spending at an astonishing rate for supposed small-government conservatives. The Democrats have been worse, wanting to rescind the tax cuts so they can spend the extra money they believe the new taxes will raise.
However, as bad as both parties have been, John Edwards promises something new and different. He promises to make it worse by adding so much new spending that it would create a budget 36% larger than FY2007, within just eight years:
Presidential candidate John Edwards is offering more policy proposals than any other candidate in the primary and his ideas are winning loud applause from Democratic audiences.
The question is whether other voters will cheer when they see the price tag — more than $125 billion a year.
Edwards is quick to acknowledge his spending on health care, energy and poverty reduction comes at a cost, with more plans to come. All told, his proposals would equal more than $1 trillion if he could get them enacted into law and operational during two White House terms.
To put the number in perspective, President Bush has dedicated more than $1.8 trillion to tax cuts. The cost of the
Iraq war is nearing $450 billion. And this year's federal budget is about $2.8 trillion.
Just to give a sense of perspective to Edwards' proposals, let's take a look at the recent history of the federal budget. Brian Riedl of the Heritage Foundation has updated his numbers from last year, and we can get a sense of the enormity of Edwards' spending increases. It has taken the US more than 16 years to add one trillion dollars to its federal budget; we spent $1,88 trillion in 1990, and we'll spend $2.8 trillion this year.
How long did it take us to grow the budget by 36% since 1990? Fifteen years, half the rate of the Edwards' proposals. We hit that mark in 2005, when the budget went to $2.56 trilion.
What about those Bush tax cuts, which have starved the federal government of revenue needed to solve all of the problems Edwards addresses? They haven't starved anyone. The rate of revenue has increased 22% in the three years following their enactment; in FY 2006, the federal government took in more revenue than ever before at $2.41 trillion, up from $1.97 trillion in 2003 when the cuts went into force. The tax cuts sparked economic growth that has added half a billion dollars more to Washington's coffers last year, and over $800 billion extra for the three-year period.
Anyone want to guess what the economy will do when the feds take back the cuts and pull all of that capital out of the market? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
In the meantime, while Edwards adds on more and more spending on more and more federal programs, he still leaves unaddressed the entitlement debacle that approaches closer and closer. Instead of marshaling resources to resolve the inherent economic dichotomies in those Ponzi schemes, he wants to make the problem exponentially worse by adding even more entitlement programs. Like most populists, he buys votes by promising to make things easy in the short run without even considering the long-term costs and fiscal health of the nation. After all, eight years later, it won't be his problem any more.
Edwards can't be considered naive -- he's dangerous to our financial stability. This is one class action that America can't afford.