Archive for the ‘federal budget’ Tag

Obama pledges fiscal conservatism

Presidential candidate Barack Obama has vowed to make deep cuts in federal spending, if elected. He says he’d cut federal spending on contractors by 10%, saving $40 billion; spending on contractors has increased from $203 billion in 2000 to $412 billion in 2006, by 10%, saving $40 billion. He also criticized no-bid contracts, which presumably he would eliminate or greatly curtail.

“I am not a Democrat who believes that we can or should defend every government program just because it’s there,” Obama said at a rally in Green Bay. “We will fire government managers who aren’t getting results, we will cut funding for programs that are wasting your money and we will use technology and lessons from the private sector to improve efficiency across every level of government.”

“The only way we can do all this without leaving our children with an even larger debt is if Washington starts taking responsibility for every dime that it spends,” he said.

Though it is normally Republicans who talk tough about the budget, federal spending–including non-defense spending–has increased greatly during the George W. Bush administration. The budget he submitted in 2001 was for $2.0 trillion; the one he submitted this year is for $3.1 trillion.

John McCain has pledged to help the nation’s fiscal situation by aggressively going after wasteful spending, including earmarks. He has promised to make the authors of bad spending bills famous and to wield the veto pen with abandon, if needed.

Hopefully, whoever is elected actually does get the budget situation under control.

Divided government

Conservative Washington Post columnist George F. Will has a recent op-ed in which he says that the possibility of divided government is good for John McCain. Since the Second World War, 19 of 31 election cycles have resulted in divided government–one party controlling the presidency and the other controlling the Congress; Americans seem to like this and, as there is little chance that Republicans will control Congress in January, the only chance for divided government is a McCain victory.

Will brings this up again in a more recent editorial, where he points out that over the past 50 years government spending has increased an average of 1.73 percent annually during periods of divided government, but that rate more than triples, to 5.26 percent, for periods of unified government.

Using a similar type of analysis, Slate has a recent article in which they point out that the economy seems to do better under Democratic presidents than under Republican ones–using metrics that conservatives find most important. Looking at the post-1959 economy, they report that Democratic presidents have been better than Republican ones on GDP growth (4.09% vs. 2.94%), inflation (3.81% vs. 4.5%), defense spending (higher under Dems), non-defense spending (lower under Dems), and a better federal budget deficit/surplus situation (-1.21% vs. -2.7%). Only federal taxes (slightly lower under Reps) were more in line with conservative ideals under Republican presidents.

There are too many variables to draw terribly firm conclusions from the data in the Slate article; there isn’t a large enough data set anyway. But it implies that perhaps the ideal situation is a Democratic president and a Republican congress, which is what did occur during six of the eight Clinton years during which the economy did quite well indeed.