October 26, 2021

Spending to Entrench a Bloated Bureaucracy


KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Democrats want to use their reckless tax and spending spree to pump cash into federal agencies in amounts that exceed their ability to put the resources to strategic use, without meaningful metrics to measure success.
  • Like previous big-spending boondoggles, this one will lead to a jumble of poorly designed and haphazardly executed programs, wasteful spending, and a more bloated, entrenched bureaucracy, paid for by working Americans.

Convinced that spending taxpayer money is a solution in and of itself, Democrats want to use their reckless tax and spending spree to pump cash into federal agencies. They plan to do it in amounts that exceed Washington’s ability to put the resources to strategic use and without meaningful metrics to measure success. Even when you take into account that their spending plans cover a 10-year budget window, the cash infusions dwarf existing agency capacity. 

Dems Push Massive Increases over 2021 Budgets

Dems Push Massive Increases over 2021 Budgets

  • The bill that was reported from the House Budget Committee would allocate almost $25 billion to the Small Business Administration, an agency that managed a base appropriation of $800 million in fiscal year 2021. Unlike pandemic response programs at the SBA, which provided direct support to businesses suffering from government-imposed economic lockdowns, the Democrats’ bill would funnel billions to unaccountable third-party groups for “trainings” and “accelerators.” It would also set up a $9.5 billion program to invest taxpayer dollars in venture capital firms.

  • The Environmental Protection Agency currently operates a $9 billion annual budget. The Democrats’ plan would dole out more than $27 billion to set up just one new Green New Deal initiative as part of roughly $88 billion that would be dumped into the agency.

Favored Programs Get Cash Windfalls Far above 2021 Capacity

Favored Programs Get Cash Windfalls Far above 2021 Capacity

  • At the Department of Housing and Urban Development, many programs would receive cash windfalls far exceeding their typical capacity. The bill would pour $80 billion into the Public Housing program, increasing its $7.8 billion FY 2021 appropriation more than tenfold. It would also add a $75 billion allocation to Section 8 tenant-based rental assistance programs, nearly triple FY 2021 funding.

  • The Department of Agriculture would be handed approximately $40 billion for forestry-related spending, dwarfing the $7.4 billion discretionary budget managed by the Forest Service in FY 2021. In a labor market with more than 10 million job openings, $4.5 billion of the total would be earmarked for a Green New Deal jobs program.

  • It’s the same story at the Department of Labor. The Democrats’ bill would spend $16 billion on dislocated worker employment and training formula funding, a program that managed roughly $1 billion in FY 2021. It would give another $15 billion for adult worker employment and training activities, versus $863 million enacted in FY 2021.

Despite claims that this unprecedented spending is urgent, Democrats have struggled to figure out how to spend all the money they’re calling for. When the House Agriculture Committee considered its provisions, Chairman David Scott said Democrats were still working to craft a $28 billion conservation subtitle – about one-third of the committee’s total spending. The Congressional Budget Office estimated the entire conservation title of the 2018 farm bill would spur $60 billion in mandatory spending over 10 years.

Spending for the sake of spending

Some of these programs have a history of bipartisan support – as shown by the funds they have gotten through the regular appropriations process. In other cases, Democrats are using a partisan process to set up new and duplicative streams of government infrastructure and spending. Their focus seems to be on getting a massive number behind the dollar sign. But regardless of policy preferences, prudent stewardship of taxpayer money demands an acknowledgement that when resources exceed management capacity, and guardrails are lax, the result will be waste.

When Democrats enacted their partisan “COVID relief” law in March, Republicans warned that billions of dollars in hastily written, untargeted spending – like another $129 billion for schools – would lead to waste and misuse. Democrats ignored this advice and now find themselves explaining how school systems around the country are using their “COVID relief” money to pay for things like new football fields, weight rooms, and other sports facilities. Shamelessness and willful ignorance are the only explanations for repeating the same mistake.

Entrenching the bureaucracy

Implementing the massive new programs and spending will likely require significant hiring across the federal government. The challenge of finding these workers and getting them on board efficiently will be exacerbated by the dysfunctional federal hiring process. Growing the federal workforce will also put the federal government in direct competition with private-sector employers desperate for workers. And once expanded, the federal government is not in the habit of downsizing.

Like previous big-spending boondoggles, this one will lead to a jumble of poorly designed and haphazardly executed programs, wasteful spending, and a more bloated, entrenched bureaucracy, paid for by working Americans.