Explosive discretionary spending has characterized the first decade of government growth in the 21st century. Over the past ten years, discretionary spending has increased by over 100 percent, with outlays exceeding $1 trillion for the first time in the nation’s history.
The advent of federal bailouts, government “stimulus” programs, and massive omnibus spending measures has fueled bloated discretionary spending, leading to total government spending surpassing $3 trillion in 2009.
The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act Act of 2008, which created the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), set the stage for greater government intervention and higher spending levels, authorizing $700 billion in bank rescues. The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act presented a similar threat; better known as the “stimulus” plan, the trillion dollar debt and spending package led to an 84 percent increase in non-defense, discretionary spending from the previous year. The lasting impact of permanently bloated baselines is one battle prudent lawmakers have ahead of them.
Large-scale spending programs, such as TARP and the “stimulus” were aided by lax budgeting processes, exploitation of spending loopholes and a general bias for bigger government. The Center is actively engaged in supporting budget reform to change the status quo while working to end the federal spending binge.