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The Other Addiction Crisis Facing America: Government Spending

They’re hooked. They gotta have it. Threaten to take it away and they’ll do anything—lie, cheat and steal—to stop you. Even threatening to reduce their “drug” will send them into a frenzy. 

And like most addicts, they refuse to admit they’re hooked. They’ll tell you they can quit at any time—but they never do, and they always want more. 

The country is facing an addiction crisis. I could be referring to the national opioid crisis, but I’m not. I’m talking about politicians and bureaucrats, nearly all of whom are hooked … on spending taxpayer dollars. 

This chart tracks the decades-long rise in federal expenditures. Two notable exceptions over the past 50 years: there was a two-quarter decrease in 2008, during the Great Recession. And there was a two-year leveling off in 2012-13, due in part to disagreements between the Republican-controlled House and the White House on what the government should spend money on and the initiation of the budget sequester.  


I’d like to say that liberal Democrats are more addicted to spending than Republicans, but it isn’t clear that’s true—at least not anymore. These days, Republicans are pleased with themselves, and want voters to be pleased with them, if they can feed their addiction by just slowing the growth in spending rather than actually cutting it. 

Just imagine the sneers if a heroin addict wanted praise for merely slowing the rate of growth in his heroin use. 

Democrats are more open about their addiction, while Republicans talk about the need to reduce their dependency, even boasting about their efforts to do so. But the results seem to be pretty much the same: Both sides just gotta spend—your money. 

In his proposed budget, President Trump called for spending reductions of about $54 billion, but those were largely offset by a proposed $54 billion increase in defense spending.  

Yet even that modest decrease in non-defense spending led to howls from both parties—and the media—though Democrats were baying a little louder. 

It’s time for a taxpayer intervention, though that’s probably what voters thought they were doing in November. We have to break politicians’ addiction to government spending, for their own good—and ours.