Karl Dussik karl at
Wed Apr 24 00:02:56 EST 1996

In article <shinbrot-2304960948030001 at> shinbrot at (Troy Shinbrot) writes:
>In article <4lgn2f$dt2 at>, jsmolen at wrote:
>> I also read that increases in entitlements (according to
>> "normal", programmed growth) ate up every cent of the post-Cold War
>> peace dividend.
>> Jim
>This is indeed one point of view; I think it important to point out though
>that it is only a point of view, and it is not the only one.  For example
>in my point of view it was INTEREST ON THE DEFICIT BROUGHT TO US BY THE
>REAGAN-BUSH ADMINISTRATION that ate up our budget.  Just to put things in
>perspective, this accounts for an increase of $3 Trillion in the national
>debt, or roughly $300 Billion in annual expenditures.  ALL of the NIH and
>NSF budgets for the year account for under $4 Billion.

But the deficit itself was caused by entitlements - programmed yearly
increases in spending without have to be voted on and therefore out of
reach of even a Presidential veto.  The other major factor was paying
off the S & L bailout.  When that ended, the deficit started coming down.
Of course Clinton - true to form - took credit for the decrease in the
deficit.  Why does the old saying about the cock who thinks his crowing
is responsible for the sunrise come to mind? :-)

Furthermore, the Democrats blocked every attempt by Reagan to cut spending.
Here is an example (from a liberal source):

    "Every agency and program has a constituency and a congressional
    subcommittee to protect it.  Congress has written into its appropriation
    bills detailed instructions for how individual government departments
    must carry out their work.  Last year's agricultural appropriations bill,
    for example, sets minimum, not maximum, staffing levels for the
    department's different agencies.  And it prohibits the department from
    using funds to contract out work to private companies like debt
    collectors that might be more efficient.  A lot of that type of
    legislation was put in place as a defensive measure by a Democratic
    Congress trying to protect agencies from Reagan era budget cutters."
    Mara Liasson, NPR, 3/4/93

And here's another from the Washington Post, 6/19/95:

    "It didn't take decades to run up the deficit.  It took about a dozen
    years, from the end of the 1960's to the early 1980's...  The defenders
    of the great Reagan tax cut point out, accurately, that they were only
    returning the total tax burden to the levels where it had been as
    recently as the 1960's.  That's the part of the story that tends to be
    neglected...  By about 1970 ... the U.S. economy ... had been growing at
    a phenomenal rate for nearly a quarter of a century...  leading
    economists and the politicians they served to believe they had finally
    mastered the magic of growth and could make prosperity rise forever.
    They responded by spending some of that new wealth on social benefits -
    bigger pensions, more generous medical insurance, better housing, and all
    the rest...  Then, suddenly, the boom ended...  The new wealth to
    finance these social benefits never appeared.  The era of big deficits

Two notes on this: 1) the politicians didn't just spend "some of that wealth
on social benefits," they spent it all - and more.  2) The boom ended with
the Carter recession and it took Reagan almost 4 years to bring the economy
into recovery - a much stronger recovery than the anemic one Clinton is
trying to take credit for.

Just look at the recent battle over balancing the budget.  Even with a
shutdown, entitlements kept on coming (and growing).  And look who supported
balancing the budget - the Republicans, and who opposed it - Clinton and the
liberal Democrats.  If Reagan had this Republican Congress we would have a
surplus by now.  All Clinton ever did on his own was propose budgets that
had $200 billion yearly deficits for the next 5 years, after which it
started soaring toward the $400 billion mark.

Karl Dussik                | Standard disclaimer: Speaking only for myself. |
"It was no accident that the debt increased by $3 trillion in the 1980's.  We
have come into activities where the cost goes up.  I think had Democrats been
in the White House in the 1980's, we would have done the same."  Sen. Daniel
Patrick Moynihan, Chairman of the Finance Committee, Face the Nation, 6/21/93

"One of the biggest problems with the Republican budget is that it does not
control the cost of entitlements.  It grows from 64% of the budget to 74% of
the budget." - Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE), Meet the Press, 10/29/95

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