and Spending II
In this series of reports I am exploring with you some aspects of the big issues of 1963 -- taxes and spending. My first report dealt with some basic tax facts. This time we'll take a look at spending.
Almost no one opposes the idea of tax cuts. However, many people seriously question any large reduction of federal revenue NOW -- for the new budget is $5 billion more than the current one, and a $6-8 billion deficit is already in sight, even without the proposed tax cuts. Thus many people write me expressing support for tax cuts, but only if there is at the same time a sharp reduction in federal spending.
I am seriously concerned that federal spending
seems to go up $5-7 billion every year, regardless of whether Democrats
or Republicans are in power. Our last five federal budgets have gone like
I receive letters every day posing these concerned questions: Will these big annual budget increases ever stop? Why does President Kennedy propose $5 billion more this year than last? Why doesn't Congress blow the whistle on this spending? These questions are very proper ones, and they deserve to be answered.
A LOOK AT LONG-TERM TRENDS
Sometimes long-term trends are more significant and revealing than year-to-year changes, and I think it might help us to stand back from a five-year vantage point and take a good hard look at our federal budget.
When I first ran for Congress I made an extensive
analysis of the budget for the fiscal year 1959 -- the middle of President
Eisenhower's latter term. Today Congress is debating President Kennedy's
fiscal 1964 budget proposals. (Fiscal 1964 runs from July 1963 to June
1964.) I have compared the 1959 and 1964 federal budgets. In summary here's
what I find:
The details of my study appear below. I know that columns of figures can be a big bore to most of us, but these figures are your tax money and they vitally affect every citizen and taxpayer. I urge you to take a few minutes to study what your government is doing, and where your money is going.
WAR AND PEACE -- A GROUPING OF EXPENDITURES
In previous discussions, and in this one, I have grouped (for clarity of discussion) all the various budget expenditures into two broad categories: 1) War Related Expenditures, the monies needed for national security and preparation for wars we hope we'll not have to fight, and paying the costs of past wars; and 2) all other expenditures, which I have termed Domestic of Non-Defense Expenditures.
The War Related Expenditures include:
The Domestic or Non-Defense Expenditures
Now for the comparisons themselves. In the columns
below I have compared the 1959 and 1963 budgets, indicating whether expenses
are up or down, and by how much, in each category. (Figures represent billions.)
I would make a few additional observations regarding
DOLLARS PER CAPITA -- THEN AND NOW
It might be interesting also to compare our increased
budget expenditures in this five-year period against our huge population
growth. Between 1958 (when the fiscal 1959 budget was in effect) and 1963
our country added 15 million new Americans -- almost enough to populate
New York or California. These people demand new post offices, more mail
carriers, new federal impact school aid, new highways, weather bureaus
and other federal services. Thus it is important that we compare PER CAPITA
spending. Here are the figures:
I think it is interesting to note that figures showing the month-by-month Purchasing Value of the Dollar reveal that approximately half the $10 increase in per capita expenditures for non-defense purposes can be attributed to inflation.
DOLLARS FROM OUR ECONOMY -- THEN AND NOW
Another important approach is to study federal
spending in relation to our national income, or Gross National Product.
In 1959 the GNP was $483 billion. In 1963 it should reach $578 billion.
Is the federal government spending a greater or lesser percentage of the
income of our nation? Here are the figures:
CAN WE CUT FEDERAL SPENDING -- AND WHERE?
These, then, are the facts with which responsible citizens must contend when talking about reducing the federal budget. It is obvious from this analysis that wholesale slashes in the budget are not possible. The question remains: are there savings that could be realized in specific areas without hurting our economy, crippling essential programs or undermining our strength in the Cold War? I think there are. In my next newsletter I will make some concrete proposals for reducing federal spending. In the meantime, I hope you will give me the benefit of any thoughts you have for responsible reductions you feel might be possible. I look forward to hearing from you.
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