Monday, August 6, 2012

American Subsidy Madness, Ctd. (UPDATED)

A couple weeks ago, I lamented the hundred billion dollars in annual business subsidies that the US government doles out every year.  Today from Cato's Thomas Firey comes another eye-opening - and sigh-worthy - stat about the United States' addiction to spending: the 2.4 trillion - with a "T" - dollars in borrowed money that the US government has spent on "stimulus" measures since 2008:
[The Stimulus] was just one of several fiscal stimulus bills that Washington adopted, beginning with the February 2008 Economic Stimulus Act and continuing through to early this year. Some of those bills were explicit stimulus measures; others were ostensibly intended to address other policy goals, but were engineered to provide fiscal stimulus by borrowing and spending money now, and then using future government revenues to pay off that borrowing (perhaps when God grants St. Augustine chastity and continence)...

# Name Stimulus (Billions) Became Law Public Law Note
1.0 Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 $167 2/13/2008 110-185 A ”timely, targeted, and temporary fiscal stimulus.”
1.0.1 Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2008 $5.7 11/21/2008 110-449 Extends unemployment insurance, using borrowed funds so as to provide stimulus.
2.0 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 $819 2/17/2009 111-16 This package of public works projects, tax breaks, unemployment insurance extension, and other spending would keep unemployment below 8%.
2.0.1 Cash for Clunkers Extension $2 8/7/2009 111-47 Continues the subsidy for new car purchases that was first enacted as part of ARRA.
2.1 Worker, Homeownership and Business Assistance Act of 2009 $44.7 11/6/2009 111-92 Extends and expands the homebuyer tax credit program.
2.2 Temporary Extension Act of 2010 $8.1 3/2/2010 111-144 Extends unemployment insurance, using borrowed funds so as to provide stimulus.
2.3 Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act $17.6 3/18/2010 111-147 AKA the “Jobs for Main Street Act,” this “jobs bill” would ”spur job growth and strengthen the private sector.”
2.4 Continuing Extension Act of 2010 $18.1 4/15/2010 111-157 Extends unemployment insurance, using borrowed funds so as to provide stimulus.
2.5 Homebuyer Assistance and Improvement Act of 2010 $145 7/2/2010 111-198 Extends the deadline for submitting paperwork for homebuyer credit.
2.6 Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2010 $33.9 7/22/2010 111-205 Extends unemployment insurance, using borrowed funds so as to provide stimulus.
2.6.1 United States Manufacturing Enhancement Act of 2010 $3 8/11/2010 111-227 Reduces or suspends various import duties.
2.7 Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 $85.4 9/27/2010 111-240 Expands SBA loan programs and provides other small business assistance.
3.0 Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 $916.8 12/17/2010 111-312 A package of tax breaks, including a cut in the Social Security payroll tax, an extension of the Bush income tax rates, and an extension of unemployment insurance.
3.1 Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011 N/A 12/23/2011 112-78 Extends the Social Security payroll tax cut, extends unemployment insurance, and other provisions.
4.0 Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 $167.6 2/22/2012 112-96 Extends the Social Security payroll tax cut, among other provisions.
SUM: $2,433.9
That is a truly breathtaking figure - even for someone like me who tracks this stuff pretty closely and has thus become pretty numb to crazy US budget figures.  And this, of course, is on top of the myriad "regular" subsidies (e.g., the billions of taxpayer dollars spent yearly on federal government support for agriculture) that are part of the annual US budget.  It all leaves me with one simple question:

When exactly is this government "stimulation" supposed to pay off?

UPDATE: And just so we're totally clear here, Cato's Tad DeHaven helpfully reminds us today that America's subsidy addiction is a bipartisan affliction:
Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the “No More Solyndras Act.” As Taxpayers for Common Sense notes, however, the bill should probably be called the “More Solyndras Act” because it would still allow the Department of Energy to approve loan guarantee applications that were submitted by Dec. 31, 2011....

Sensing an opportunity to embarrass Republicans, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) offered an amendment that would have completely ended the Title 17 loan guarantee program. Most of the committee’s Republicans promptly embarrassed themselves by joining all Democrats in voting down the amendment 3-39. Republicans Mike Pompeo (Kansas), Michael Burgess (Texas), and Steve Scalise (Louisiana) were the only members to vote to abolish the program.

This isn’t the first time that Republicans have joined Democrats to save the program. Back in June, an amendment that would have shut down the Title 17 loan guarantee program failed 136-282 with 127 Republicans joining 155 Democrats to defeat it. Only 54 percent of freshmen Republicans from the so-called “Tea Party Class” supported the amendment.

No comments: