Bush has described his new budget as "lean." And if one were to believe the International Committee for the Fourth International, a libertarian might actually be pleased with Bush's latest attempt. Unfortunately, only in Washington D.C. can a budget be described as lean when in fact it totals more that $2.7 trillion dollars. Of course even this number is misleading. First, it does not account for the war in Iraq. Second, if history is any guide, the estimated spending on government programs is vastly understated.
"Consider the spending levels that President Bush proposed for 2005 in his first budget four years ago. He proposed that spending on education would be $83 billion in 2005. The new budget says that 2005 education spending will be $96 billion. Similarly, estimated 2005 spending on agriculture jumped from $14 billion to $31 billion, transportation from $61 billion to $68 billion, and international affairs from $21 billion to $32 billion." (Cato's Chris Edwards and Allan Reynolds in today's WSJ)
But what about the 150 programs that are threatened with cuts or worse, obliteration? As Reynolds and Edwards remind us, "even if Congress passed all those cuts, 2006 spending would be reduced by less than 1%. Last year's budget likewise proposed terminating 65 programs, but only five were actually ended."