Conservatively Speaking

State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.

Federal spending by the numbers

Economy, Taxes

Mind-boggling numbers and data highlight the Heritage Foundation’s 2010 edition of "Federal Spending by the Numbers."  The staggering report authored by UW-Madison graduate Brian Riedl, the Heritage Foundation’s lead budget analyst, outlines out of control taxing and spending in Washington D.C. with fiscal irresponsibility reigning.


Take President Obama’s budget. Under the president’s proposal, Washington would spend $3,618 trillion, raise $2,118 trillion, and run a $1,500 trillion deficit during 2010. The Heritage Foundation reports spending increased 19 percent faster than inflation since 2008, and that  is during a recession.


Here is the never-ending ugly pattern of spending relative to the average American. Heritage reports, “From 2000 to 2010, real federal spending will have increased from $21,875 per household to $30,543 per household.  In 2010, the federal government will spend $30,543 per household, collect taxes of $17,879 per household, and run a budget deficit of $12,664 per household. Under President Obama’s budget, deficits from 2010 through 2020 would total $82,219 per household.”


Where does all the money go? Here are, in order, the top ten categories of federal spending from 2000-2010: Social Security, National defense, Medicare, Income security programs, Medicaid and SCHIP, Unemployment benefits, Net interest, Veterans benefits, Federal retirement and disability, and Education.


Entitlement spending has exploded, comprising 56 percent of all federal expenditures. Heritage warns that without reforms to the big three entitlements, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, dramatic choices will need to be considered:


“Raising taxes by the current equivalent of $12,636 per household by 2050, and further thereafter; Eliminating every federal program except Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; or Increasing the national debt to unprecedented levels that could cause an economic collapse.”


Remember all the discussion and angst about earmarks? Grants based on political favoritism rather than merit still number over 9,000. Heritage reports, “President Obama pledged to reduce earmark spending down to the 1994 level of $7.8 billion (in nominal dollars). Instead, he signed $16.5 billion of appropriations earmarks into law last year.”


Heritage offers this budget deficit comparison:


“President Bush’s budget deficits averaged $447 billion. President Obama’s budget shows average deficits of $851 billion over the eight years he would serve if he wins a second term.”


Could Washington policymakers find areas to cut to address runaway spending and colossal deficits? Mere talk of cuts brings out predictable rhetoric that the result would be chaos and mass suffering. An eye-opening section of the Heritage report itemizes the many areas the federal government could slam on the spending brakes. Here are a few:


"•The federal government made at least $98 billion in improper payments in 2009.


Washington spends $92 billion on corporate welfare (excluding TARP) versus $71 billion on homeland security.


Washington spends $25 billion annually maintaining unused or vacant federal properties.


• Government auditors spent the past five years examining all federal programs and found that 22 percent of them—costing taxpayers a total of $123 billion annually—fail to show any positive impact on the populations they serve.


• Because of overstaffing, the U.S. Postal Service selects 1,125 employees per day to sit in empty rooms. They are not allowed to work, read, play cards, watch television, or do anything. This costs $50 million annually.


Washington will spend $2.6 million training Chinese prostitutes to drink more responsibly on the job.


Stimulus dollars have been spent on mascot costumes, electric golf carts, and a university study examining how much alcohol college freshmen women require before agreeing to casual sex.


• A GAO audit classified nearly half of all purchases on government credit cards as improper, fraudulent, or embezzled. Examples include gambling, mortgage payments, liquor, lingerie, iPods, Xboxes, jewelry, Internet dating services, and Hawaiian vacations. In one extraordinary example, the Postal Service spent $13,500 on one dinner at a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, including “over 200 appetizers and over $3,000 of alcohol, including more than 40 bottles of wine costing more than $50 each and brand-name liquor such as Courvoisier, Belvedere and Johnny Walker Gold.” The 81 guests consumed an average of $167 worth of food and drink apiece.


New York distributed $140 million in stimulus money into the individual accounts of families on welfare, yet neglected to mention it was intended for school supplies. Local ATMs were depleted, and much of the money was reportedly spent on ‘flat screen TV’s, iPods and video gaming systems’ as well as ‘cigarettes and beer.’


• House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her staff have charged taxpayers $101,000 for in-flight services’—including food and liquor—during trips on Air Force jets over the last two years. Charges reportedly include ‘Maker’s Mark whiskey, Courvoisier cognac, Johnny Walker Red scotch, Grey Goose vodka, E&J brandy, Bailey’s Irish Crème, Bacardi Light rum, Jim Beam whiskey, Beefeater gin, Dewars scotch, Bombay Sapphire gin, Jack Daniels whiskey, and Corona beer.’


• New documents reveal that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) lost 1,000 computers in 2008. Not to be outdone, Homeland Security officers lost nearly 200 guns in places like restaurant restrooms, convenience stores, and bowling alleys. Several of the guns ended up in the hands of criminals.


• The Congressional Research Service has confirmed that the new health care law may subsidize Viagra and other sexual performance drugs for convicted rapists and sex offenders.


•The refusal of many federal employees to fly coach costs taxpayers $146 million annually in flight upgrades.


• Members of Congress have spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars supplying their offices with popcorn machines, plasma televisions, DVD equipment, ionic air fresheners, camcorders, and signature machines—plus $24,730 leasing a Lexus, $1,434 on a digital camera, and $84,000 on personalized calendars.


Washington spends $60,000 per hour shooting Air Force One photo-ops in front of national landmarks.”

You can read the Heritage Foundation report here.

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