It appears that instead of a federal fiscal budget that sticks to the basics, we are growing accustomed to an ambitious central government that doubles its spending every generation or so on new and exciting things that it probably ought not be doing.
Both of Biden’s State of the Union addresses — like those of his former boss Barack Obama — called for more spending, regulation and, most unfortunately, dependency. The new $6.8 trillion 2024 fiscal budget proposal unveiled online and touted by Biden in Pennsylvania follows through on that vision with a bewildering array of programs and social engineering projects. Next year’s deficit would be $1.8 trillion.
To fund billions in renewable-energy projects, “environmental justice” programs, child-care subsidies, universal pre-kindergarten, national paid leave and other incarnations of helicopter government, Biden promises more levies on corporations and the wealthy (whose top marginal tax rate would rise to just under 40 percent). Domestic spending hikes also target the “climate crisis,” a term used 27 times in the budget proposal.
It took from the founding to the late 1980s Reagan era for the United States to reach a nominal $1 trillion budget. In the George W. Bush administraiton we saw the first $2 trillion and $3 trillion budgets. The financial crisis brought the first $4 trillion budget, after which COVID found us topping $6 trillion under Trump. Biden now unapologetically outstrips that level despite the pandemic being in the rear-view mirror.
In contrast to a return to fiscal normalcy and a genuine version of the “bottom-up, middle-out” growth Biden invokes (p. 1), the administration’s actions are defined by top-down central planning newly reinforced by the American Rescue Plan, the Infrastructure law, the Inflation Act and the CHIPS and Science Act. Celebrated in the new budget, all of these are as highly regulatory as they are costly.
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