FEDERAL BUDGET; Spending Unabated
Federal spending subject to Congress' discretion grew 12.5 percent for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 as part of a two-year run of government growth that topped 27 percent, according to the latest preliminary figures from congressional budget analysts.
The growth exceeds the 4 percent figure that President Bush demanded Congress stick to in its annual discretionary spending.
Given the nation's priorities of fighting terrorists abroad and bolstering homeland security in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America, the overall extra spending isn't that surprising at first glance.
Military spending jumped by almost 17 percent in fiscal year 2003, but remains low. Meanwhile, non-military discretionary spending also exceeded Bush's limit, at 8.7 percent.
Here's the kicker: Over half of new federal spending in the last two years involved programs unrelated to the war on terrorism.
A Heritage Foundation analysis shows the unrelated programs grew by 11 percent since 2001 and are currently expanding faster than the defense budget.
The enormity of the federal budget can make it easy to disguise appropriations. Lawmakers have used "defense" and "homeland security" to mask pork barrel projects on everything from levitating trains to farm subsidies, the Heritage report notes.
In addition, Citizens Against Government Waste, a non-profit government watchdog group based in Washington, D. …