Tag Archives: congressional budget office

Pryor voted for Stimulus earlier but now he is concerned about our deficit

David Pryor praises Obama

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Thanks to the Arkansas Times Blog and to Arkansas Media Watch for pointing out what Senator Pryor said in his recent visit to Rogers, Arkansas:

Getting the economy on track will require deep cuts to the federal budget and a fairer tax system, Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., said Tuesday.

National defense, Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid will account for more than 60 percent of federal spending in 2012, according to pie charts he displayed. Spending in those areas will have to be reduced along with cuts to other programs if Congress hopes to get the budget under control, he said.

“Everybody’s going to get cut,” Pryor said. “We’ve been living beyond our means.”

The two-term senator spoke at a Rogers Rotary Club luncheon in the John Q. Hammons Center.

Pryor said various tax breaks have created a system in which 45 percent of Americans don’t pay taxes.

“It’s hard to have a fair tax system where only about half the people are paying,” he said.

It is funny to me that Mark Pryor has been one of the biggest spenders in the U.S. Senate history with all his votes with Obama in favor of an almost 800 billion stimulus and a government overall of our healthcare system, but Pryor now wants to talk like a conservative.

I read this letter below from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette on August 13,  2011:

Time to stop insanity

The president has told us for 2 1/2 years that he is focusing “like a laser” on jobs. Well, looks like it’s time to replace this “Jobs Guy” with someone who has actually had some experience running something. We have given him a chance. Yes, he reads a pretty mean TelePrompTer, but his cockamamie Keynesian economic theory that only works in the ivory towers of academia has proved itself wrong again. We have lost a net 2.5 million jobs since his inauguration, and the few jobs the Obama administration has created have cost the American taxpayer about $250,000 each, according to the Congressional Budget Office. And how about his explodingthe national debt? To all the happy parents who have just welcomed their new baby into our world, here is the bad news: Your baby’s share of the national debt is $46,156.05 as of August 2 and is still climbing. Both Republican and Democratic politicians are responsible for our national debt, which now tops $14.3 trillion.

In the recent debate regarding raising the debt ceiling, the only grownups in the room were the Tea Party congressmen who tried to force a vote on a constitutional amendment to require the federal government to balance its budget like every state and city in the land is required to do. In the 2012 election, I suspect the Tea Party of Republicans, independents and Democrats will finally demand that politicians stop this insanity. God help us if they don’t.

RALPH C. PATTERSON Bella Vista

Mark Pryor has supported about every bill that President Obama has pushed. The stimulus was probably the biggest budget busting bill so far. Did that help get our economy going? Not according to Kathy Fettke:

President Obama is urging Congress to raise the $14.3T debt ceiling or else, he warns, the U.S. would be forced to default. Perhaps our representatives need a little lesson on good debt vs. bad debt.

Good debt gives the borrower the potential to create more money. Bad debt gives the borrower something he can’t afford but wants anyway.

In real estate, for example, good debt might be a loan used to purchase an investment property. The borrower acquires an asset that creates income. That income is used to pay off the debt. The borrower then owns an asset free & clear that continues to produce income, long after the original debt is gone.

Bad debt serves a need for instant gratification by borrowing income from the future.

An example of bad debt is getting a loan to purchase a new car. The car is worth less the moment it’s driven off the lot. From day 1, the borrower owes more than the car is worth, and the “asset” doesn’t create monthly income. It becomes a liability, unless it is used as a rental, trucking or any other profitable business use.

Is Obama asking for more good debt or more bad debt?

Politicians are expert wordsmiths who can spin facts into a slick campaigns designed for getting what they want. That’s why President Obama and the money magicians at the Federal Reserve are preaching that more debt would help the economy.

Has their plan worked so far? Let’s take a look:

During the past 5 years, the federal government has borrowed 4.5 trillion dollars to stimulate the economy. That’s a 40% increase in government debt! 

Did the stimulus work?

Political spin doctors say it did, claiming that US GDP climbed 1.9% in Q1 of 2011. But how much did that increase cost us?

We spent $4.5 Trillion over 5 years to create $690 Billion in GDP growth.  Doing the math, that means the US will receive 14 cents for every dollar of debt incurred to stimulate the economy.

With losses like this, the “stimulus” plan is really a bad debt deal – one in which borrowing results in more liabilities, not assets. And now our leaders are trying to talk us into more of it.

Just say “NO!” to raising the debt ceiling! It’s not just bad debt, it’s ugly debt.

The cure for bad debt is pretty simple and boring: cut spending and increase income. If you can’t do either, you default.

Borrowing just to keep up with interest payments and avoid default is reckless and only exacerbates the problem. It does not fix it.

Politicians must agree to cut spending. And they must avoid increasing income through taxation. As much as the general population would love to rob the rich, that method doesn’t work. Business owners who get punished for making money will stop producing and hiring.

Instead of taxing productive businesses to extended ugly government debt, offer businesses good debt so they can continue to grow.

Members of our society with solid business plans should be the ones borrowing – not the government.

Kathy Fettke is CEO of www.RealWealthNetwork.com, an educational resource for new and experienced real estate investors.

Dustin McDaniel praises Obama (says Bill Clinton knew what hard decisions had to be made to balance the budget)

National Debt will continue to skyrocket unless something is done about entitlements

National Debt Set to Skyrocket

Everyone wants to know more about the budget and here is some key information with a chart from the Heritage Foundation and a video from the Cato Institute.

In the past, wars and the Great Depression contributed to rapid but temporary increases in the national debt. Over the next few decades, runaway spending on MedicareMedicaid, and Social Security will drive the debt to unsustainable levels.

PERCENTAGE OF GDP

 
 
 
 
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National Debt Set to Skyrocket

Source: Heritage Foundation calculations based on data from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Institute for the Measurement of Worth, Congressional Budget Office, and White House Office of Management and Budget.

Chart 20 of 42

In Depth

  • Policy Papers for Researchers

  • Technical Notes

    The charts in this book are based primarily on data available as of March 2011 from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The charts using OMB data display the historical growth of the federal government to 2010 while the charts using CBO data display both historical and projected growth from as early as 1940 to 2084. Projections based on OMB data are taken from the White House Fiscal Year 2012 budget. The charts provide data on an annual basis except… Read More

  • Authors

    Emily GoffResearch Assistant
    Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy StudiesKathryn NixPolicy Analyst
    Center for Health Policy StudiesJohn FlemingSenior Data Graphics Editor

The Top 10 Percent of Earners Paid 70 Percent of Federal Income Taxes

Dan Mitchell on Taxing the Rich

Max Brantley this morning on the Arkansas Times Blog, August 15, 2011, asserted:  

Billionaire Warren Buffett laments, again, in a New York Times op-ed how the rich don’t share the sacrifices made by others in the U.S.. He notes his effectiie tax rate of 17 percent is lower than that of many of the working people in his office on account of preferences for investment income. Candidates such as U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin believe — with election results to support them — that Americans support such a tax system.

 It appears according the chart below that the rich do sacrifice more than others which contradicts Max Brantley’s statment above. Welcome back Max. We missed you!!!

The Top 10 Percent of Earners Paid 70 Percent of Federal Income Taxes

Top earners are the target for new tax increases, but the U.S. tax system is already highly progressive. The top 1 percent of income earners paid 38 percent of all federal income taxes in 2008, while the bottom 50 percent paid only 3 percent. Forty-nine percent of U.S. households paid no federal income tax at all.

PERCENTAGE OF FEDERAL INCOME TAXES (2008)

 
Source: Tax Foundation and Internal Revenue Service.

Chart 13 of 42

In Depth

  • Policy Papers for Researchers

  • Technical Notes

    The charts in this book are based primarily on data available as of March 2011 from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The charts using OMB data display the historical growth of the federal government to 2010 while the charts using CBO data display both historical and projected growth from as early as 1940 to 2084. Projections based on OMB data are taken from the White House Fiscal Year 2012 budget. The charts provide data on an annual basis except… Read More

  • Authors

    Emily GoffResearch Assistant
    Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy StudiesKathryn NixPolicy Analyst
    Center for Health Policy StudiesJohn FlemingSenior Data Graphics Editor

Congress unwilling to cut budget deficit to avoid downgrade in credit rating

It is a sad day since the US got downgraded in our credit. Evidently Congress did not cut enough out of the bloated budget.

08/05/2011

NEW YORK — There is plenty to dislike about the recently enacted bipartisan deal to cut spending and reduce the national debt. For starters, it neither cuts spending, nor reduces the national debt. After weeks of federal hand-wringing, taxpayers should hope that our masters in Washington become serious about slashing spending. If not, this republic will implode, not eventually on “the children,” but soon atop today’s struggling adults.

“The budget deal doesn’t cut federal spending at all,” Cato Institute analyst Chris Edwards explains. “The ‘cuts’ in the deal are only cuts from the Congressional Budget Office’s ‘baseline,’ which is a Washington construct of ever-rising spending…The federal government will still run a deficit of $1 trillion next year. This deal will ‘cut’ the 2012 budget of $3.6 trillion by just $22 billion, or less than 1 percent.”

Edwards observes that Washington’s “cuts” rarely reduce anything. President Obama​, for instance, proposed boosting the Corporation for Public Broadcasting from $432 million this year to $451 million in FY 2012. However, handing CPB $441 million would constitute a $10 million “cut” In Washington versus a $9 million increase in the real-world.

Thus, as Edwards vividly illustrates at Cato’s downsizinggovernment.org website, these budget “cuts” actually raise federal discretionary spending non-stop for the next 10 years — from $1.04 trillion in Fiscal Year 2012 to $1.23 trillion in FY 2021.

As for red ink, Washington just extended the federal credit card’s limit from $14.3 trillion to $16.7 trillion. In 2021, the national debt is expected to reach $22 trillion — a figure 54 percent above $14.3 trillion. What debt reduction?

Washington refuses to learn what millions of overextended Americans recognize daily: One cannot escape debt by tunneling ever deeper into it.

Fitch, Moody’s, and Standard & Poor’s monitor all of this and are weighing whether or not to scrap America’s sterling AAA credit rating. A debt downgrade would hammer national prestige, hike interest rates, and heap short-term agony on an already achy nation. However, such a startling development may supply the face-down-in-the-gutter moment that Washington’s bipartisan spendaholics desperately need to hit rock bottom, grow up, and enter rehab. Everything else has failed during the Bush-Obama era of the ever-expanding state.

Meanwhile, the Select Committee that will spring from the debt deal may generate some good news amid these shadows. As it seeks at least $1.5 trillion in spending cuts by November 23, it should act boldly to improve America’s fiscal outlook:

•A staggering $703 billion in allocated but unspent revenues languish in federal accounts. Several Republicans have sponsored bills to shift this K2 of cash from dust collection to debt reduction. I have addressed these forgotten funds so often that my computer keyboard hurts. Will the Select Committee finally listen?

•The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance includes the People’s Garden Grant Program, Appalachian Development Highway System, and 2,182 other federal subsidy programs. Many of these should be terminated rather than trimmed, so they never return to menace taxpayers.

•The Select Committee should padlock entire departments (Agriculture, Education, and Housing, for starters), privatize other agencies (FAA, National Weather Service, NPR), and devolve many more to the states via block grants (Medicaid, Food Stamps).

•The Select Committee should raise and index the Social Security eligibility age from 67 to 68 for those born in the 1960s, 69 for children of the ’70s, etc. Medicare’s age-65 threshold similarly should be modernized for these cohorts. Old-age benefits should reflect life expectancy today, not in the 1930s and ’60s, when they were concocted.

“We are less than three years away from where Greece had its debt crisis as to where they were from debt to GDP,” former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker told CNBC Tuesday. “We are not exempt from a debt crisis,” he added. “We have serious interest rate risk. We have serious currency risk. We have serious inflation risk over time. If it happens, it will be sudden, and it will be very painful.”


Mr. Murdock, a New York-based commentator to HUMAN EVENTS, is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University

Rising Deficits Drive U.S. Debt Limit Higher, Faster

Rising Deficits Drive U.S. Debt Limit Higher, Faster

Everyone wants to know more about the budget and here is some key information with a chart from the Heritage Foundation and a video from the Cato Institute.

Congress first placed a statutory limit on total federal debt in 1917, in the Second Liberty Bond Act. Since 1962, Congress has altered the debt limit through 74 separate measures, raising it 10 times since 2001. Since 1990, the debt limit has been raised a total of $10.1 trillion, but nearly half of that increase has occurred since September 2007.

U.S. DEBT LIMIT

 
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Rising Deficits Drive U.S. Debt Limit Higher, Faster

Source: Congressional Research Service and White House Office of Management and Budget (Table 7.3, Historical Tables).

Chart 26 of 42

In Depth

  • Policy Papers for Researchers

  • Technical Notes

    The charts in this book are based primarily on data available as of March 2011 from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The charts using OMB data display the historical growth of the federal government to 2010 while the charts using CBO data display both historical and projected growth from as early as 1940 to 2084. Projections based on OMB data are taken from the White House Fiscal Year 2012 budget. The charts provide data on an annual basis except… Read More

  • Authors

    Emily GoffResearch Assistant
    Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy StudiesKathryn NixPolicy Analyst
    Center for Health Policy StudiesJohn FlemingSenior Data Graphics Editor

Government spending has got too high in the USA

Max Brantley of the Arkansas Times Blog is very fond of quoting Paul Krugman concerning his view that the worst thing we could do now is cut federal spending. However, federal spending doesn’t work to pull us out of a recession.

 

Federal Spending Doesn’t Work

by Chris Edwards

Despite ongoing federal deficits of more than $1 trillion a year, many liberals are calling for more government spending to “create jobs.” At the same time, liberals are opposing budget cuts because that would supposedly hurt the economic recovery. And then there is the perennial problem of Democrats and Republicans defending spending on their particular favored programs.

With all these forces arrayed against budget sanity, it’s time to take a back-to-basics look at the role of government spending in the economy.

Federal spending has soared over the past decade. As a share of gross domestic product, spending grew from 18 percent in 2001 to 24 percent in 2011. The causes of this expansion include the costs of wars, growing entitlement programs, the 2009 stimulus bill and rising spending on discretionary programs such as education.

The reality is that Washington is very bad at trying to micromanage short-term economic performance.

New projections from the Congressional Budget Office show that without reforms spending will keep rising for decades to come. The CBO’s “alternative fiscal scenario” shows spending growing to 34 percent of GDP by 2035. Thus, the federal government is on course to gobble up almost twice as much of the U.S. economy 24 years from now as it did just a decade ago.

America is becoming a big-government nation

Sadly, America is rapidly becoming a big-government nation. Data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development compares spending by all levels of government among its 31 high-income member countries. This year, government spending in the United States hit 41 percent of GDP, meaning that more than 4 out of every 10 dollars that we produce is consumed by our federal, state and local governments.

We used to have a substantial government size advantage compared to other countries. But Figure 1 shows that while government spending in the United States was about 10 percentage points of GDP smaller than the average OECD country in the past, that gap has now shrunk to just 4 points. A number of high-income nations — such as Australia — now have smaller governments than does the United States.

This is very troubling because America’s strong growth and high living standards were historically built on our relatively small government. The ongoing surge in federal spending is undoing this competitive advantage that we have enjoyed in the world economy.

CBO projections show that federal spending will rise by about 10 percentage points of GDP between now and 2035. If that happens, governments in the United States will be grabbing more than half of everything produced in the nation by that year. That would doom future generations of Americans to unbearable levels of taxation and a stagnant economy with fewer opportunities.

Government spending doesn’t stimulate

There is renewed talk in Washington about further spending measures to try and stimulate the weak economy. That idea is remarkably naïve and misguided. It is now more than two years after passage of the $821 billion stimulus package in 2009, and it is obvious that that effort was a hugely expensive Keynesian policy failure.

The Obama administration’s attempt to pump up “aggregate demand” in the economy simply hasn’t worked. In Keynesian theory, the total amount of deficit spending is the amount of “stimulus” delivered to the economy. Well, we’ve had deficit spending of $459 billion in 2008, $1.4 trillion in 2009, $1.3 trillion in 2010 and $1.4 trillion in 2011.

Yet despite that enormous deficit-spending stimulus, U.S. unemployment remains stuck at more than 9 percent and the recovery is very sluggish compared to prior recoveries. Indeed, the current recovery appears to be slower than any since World War II, according to a recent Joint Economic Committee study.

Obama administration economists had claimed that the Keynesian “multipliers” from government spending are large, meaning that spending would give a big boost to GDP. But other economists have found that Keynesian multipliers are actually quite small, meaning that added government spending mainly just displaces private-sector activities. Stanford University economist John Taylor took a detailed look at GDP data over recent years, and he found little evidence of any benefits from the 2009 stimulus bill. Any “sugar high” to the economy from recent increases in government spending was at best very small and short-lived.

The reality is that Washington is very bad at trying to micromanage short-term economic performance. Its failed stimulus actions have just put the nation further into debt, which will harm our long-term prosperity. Harvard University’s Robert Barro calculated that any short-term benefit that the 2009 stimulus bill may have provided is greatly outweighed by the future damage caused by higher taxes and debt.

The government’s leaky bucket

Let’s take a look at how government spending damages the economy over the long run. Spending is financed by the extraction of resources from current and future taxpayers. The resources consumed by the government cannot be used to produce goods in the private marketplace. For example, the engineers needed to build a $10 billion government high-speed rail line are taken away from building other products in the economy. The $10 billion rail line creates government-connected jobs, but it also kills at least $10 billion worth of private jobs.

Indeed, the private sector would actually lose more than $10 billion in this example. That is because government spending and taxing creates “deadweight losses,” which result from distortions to working, investment and other activities. The CBO says that deadweight loss estimates “range from 20 cents to 60 cents over and above the revenue raised.” Harvard University’s Martin Feldstein thinks that deadweight losses “may exceed one dollar per dollar of revenue raised, making the cost of incremental governmental spending more than two dollars for each dollar of government spending.” Thus, a $10 billion high-speed rail line would cost the private economy $20 billion or more.

The government uses a “leaky bucket” when it tries to help the economy. Former chairman of the Council of Economics Advisors, Michael Boskin, explains: “The cost to the economy of each additional tax dollar is about $1.40 to $1.50. Now that tax dollar … is put into a bucket. Some of it leaks out in overhead, waste and so on. In a well-managed program, the government may spend 80 or 90 cents of that dollar on achieving its goals. Inefficient programs would be much lower, $0.30 or $0.40 on the dollar.” Texas A&M economist Edgar Browning comes to similar conclusions about the magnitude of the government’s leaky bucket: “It costs taxpayers $3 to provide a benefit worth $1 to recipients.”

The larger the government grows, the leakier the bucket becomes. On the revenue side, tax distortions rise rapidly as tax rates rise. On the spending side, funding is allocated to activities with ever lower returns as the government expands. Figure 2 illustrates the consequences of the leaky bucket. On the left-hand side, tax rates are low and the government initially delivers useful public goods such as crime reduction. Those activities create high returns, so per-capita incomes initially rise as the government grows.

As the government expands further, it engages in less productive activities. The marginal return from government spending falls and then turns negative. On the right-hand side of the figure, average incomes fall as the government expands. Government in the United States — at more than 40 percent of GDP — is almost certainly on the right-hand side of this figure.

In his 2008 book, Stealing from Ourselves, Professor Browning concludes that today’s welfare state reduces GDP — or average U.S. incomes — by about 25 percent. That would place us quite far to the right in Figure 2, and it suggests that federal spending cuts would substantially increase U.S. incomes over time.

All the official projections show rivers of red ink for years to come unless federal policymakers enact major budget reforms. Unless spending is cut, the United States is headed for economic ruin. We need to cut entitlements, domestic discretionary programs and defense spending, as Cato has detailed at http://www.DownsizingGovernment.org.

Cutting spending would boost the economy because many federal programs have very low or negative returns. Many programs cause severe economic distortions. Other programs damage the environment and restrict individual freedom. And the federal government has expanded into hundreds of areas that would be better left to state and local governments, businesses, charities and individuals.

With the upcoming debt-limit vote, fiscal conservatives in Congress have a real chance to start turning the tide. If they don’t stick to their guns, the “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” we celebrate this July 4 will become meaningless as Washington usurps an ever larger share of our incomes and our economy

Brantley: Republicans will pay for opposing tax increases

Today on the Arkansas Times Blog Max Brantley asserted:

 A growing number of polls show Republican voters think their representatives in Congress are too extreme — opposing any tax increases — and have not done enough to work out the debt ceiling problem.

Tim Griffin, Rick Crawford and Steve Womack don’t need no stinkin’ polls.

I do not think that the American people want their taxes raised right now. That may be contrary to what President Obama thinks though. In the article, “Myths of Tax Cuts for Rich, Spending Cuts for Poor,” published on May 3, 2011 by Brian Riedl, the case is made that the rich pay a higher percentage of the total taxes than they have in a long time. He notes, “The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reports that the richest 20 percent of taxpayers now shoulder a record 86 percent of the federal income tax burden. By comparison in 1981 it was 64 percent and in 2001 it was 81 percent.

Below is the complete article:

Conventional wisdom becomes dangerous when it contradicts analysis and evidence. On the federal budget, for example, we’re told that the rich are evading their fair share of the tax burden while the poor are seeing their spending slashed.

These assumptions have consequences. The president’s deficit commission — which maintains that everything is on the table — left the $638 billion federal anti-poverty budget virtually untouched. Others assert that finally soaking the rich will close the budget deficit.

Basic government data reveal this conventional wisdom to be flat wrong: Anti-poverty spending is at record levels. The rich are shouldering more of the tax burden than ever. The federal budget is more redistributive than ever.

First, let’s examine taxes. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reports that the richest 20 percent of taxpayers now shoulder a record 86 percent of the federal income tax burden. This is substantially higher than when Ronald Reagan took office (64 percent) and even higher than when George W. Bush took office (81 percent).

How could the tax code become even more progressive after President Bush’s tax cuts? Imagine an income tax cut that reduces Montgomery Burns’ tax from $95,000 to $85,000 and Homer Simpson’s tax from $5,000 to $0. Mr. Burns saves more dollars, but the Simpsons see a larger percentage reduction in their taxes. As a result, Mr. Burns goes from paying 95 percent of the combined tax burden up to 100 percent.

This happened with the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. Although Mr. Bush reduced taxes for wealthy individuals, he also cut the lowest income tax bracket by one-third and doubled the refundable child tax credit — taking 10 million low-income families off the income tax rolls. In fact, the poorest 40 percent of households now pay zero income taxes, and many actually receive checks from Washington on April 15.

Examining all federal taxes — including corporate, payroll and excise taxes — doesn’t significantly change the story. In 1980, the richest 20 percent financed 55 percent of all federal revenue. Today, they finance a record 69 percent. In that time, the portion of all taxes paid by the top 1 percent has doubled. The portion paid by the bottom 40 percent has dropped nearly in half.

The data are clear. Nearly every year, the federal tax burden tilts even further toward upper-income taxpayers. Seekers of a more progressive tax policy should answer two questions: If 86 percent of the income tax burden is not enough, how much should the top 20 percent of taxpayers pay? And if the bottom 40 percent paying no income taxes is not sufficient, what is?

The flip side of the “tax cuts for the rich” mantra has been “spending cuts for the poor.” Again, the official government data flatly contradict the conventional wisdom.

According to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, federal anti-poverty spending has soared from $190 billion in 1990 to $348 billion in 2000, and to a staggering $638 billion this year (all adjusted for inflation). The growth since 2000 has been particularly remarkable in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (470 percent), food stamps (229 percent), energy assistance (163 percent), child care assistance (89 percent) and Medicaid (80 percent).

These expansions have been bipartisan: Mr. Bush — unfairly derided as bad for poor people — became the first president to spend more than 3 percent of the nation’s income on anti-poverty programs. President Obama then pushed it above 4 percent. In fact, since 1990, anti-poverty spending as a share of national income has expanded as fast as Social Security, Medicare, defense and education — combined.

So why the perceived “spending cuts for the poor”? Because anti-poverty spending increases (as large as $60 billion annually) occur automatically, and therefore go largely unnoticed. Yet any lawmaker proposing to shave even $1 billion off that growth is loudly attacked for “declaring war” on the safety net.

Missing is any broader context. Also missing is serious engagement with Robert Rector’s research displaying the ineffectiveness of much of this spending.

Washington faces enormous budgetary problems, including trillion-dollar deficits and the exploding costs of Social Security and Medicare. A lack of redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor is not one of those problems.

Brian Riedl is the Grover M. Hermann fellow in federal budgetary affairs at the Heritage Foundation