Happy Cost of Government Day! You Worked for It
August 15, 2011
The drama of the last-minute vote to increase the debt ceiling by $2.5 trillion has focused on projected deficits of the federal government and how they will add to the national debt. Those numbers are large. The national debt was $10 trillion when President Obama was inaugurated and is expected to be $15.5 trillion at the end of the year.
Yet focusing on the deficit understates the true cost of government. In fact, this year’s deficit of $1.5 trillion is “only” 40% of federal spending. And while federal spending has jumped to $3.8 trillion in 2011 from $2.9 trillion in 2008—a 31% increase—that does not include state and local spending, which is estimated to total $1.6 trillion in 2011, according to new report from the Americans for Tax Reform Foundation (ATRF). Nor do these numbers include the cost of individuals and businesses complying with federal regulations: The total cost of such compliance is estimated to be $1.8 trillion.