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kskiska Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-11-03 11:07 PM
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Government Outgrows Cap Set by President
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Discretionary Spending Rose 12.5% Last Year

Wednesday, November 12, 2003; Page A01

Confounding President Bush's pledges to rein in government growth, federal discretionary spending expanded by 12.5 percent in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, capping a two-year bulge that saw the government grow by more than 27 percent, according to preliminary spending figures from congressional budget panels.

The sudden rise in spending subject to Congress's annual discretion stands in marked contrast to the 1990s, when such discretionary spending rose an average of 2.4 percent a year. Not since 1980 and 1981 has federal spending risen at a similar clip. Before those two years, spending increases of this magnitude occurred at the height of the Vietnam War, 1966 to 1968.

The preliminary spending figures for 2003 also raise questions about the government's long-term fiscal health. Bush administration officials have said fiscal restraint and "pro-growth" tax cuts should put the government on a path to a balanced budget. Bush has demanded that spending that is subject to Congress's annual discretion be capped at 4 percent.

But the Republican-led Congress has not obliged. The federal government spent nearly $826 billion in fiscal 2003, an increase of $91.5 billion over 2002, said G. William Hoagland, a senior budget and economic aide to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.). Military spending shot up nearly 17 percent, to $407.3 billion, but nonmilitary discretionary spending also far outpaced Bush's limit, rising 8.7 percent, to $418.6 billion.

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