why does Congress spend so much?

Discussion in 'Economics' started by olias, Feb 4, 2011.

  1. olias


    I thought this was a pretty good piece here. She's making an argument that one of the big reasons Congress spends so much money, is because there are no term limits. The longer these people stay in power, the more they tend to favor spending.


    some highlights:

    Would it surprise you to learn that newbies in Congress (those who have served six years or less in the House and 12 or less in the Senate) are more likely to vote for fiscal restraint than veteran lawmakers? Or that this finding was based on votes taken from 1995 through 1998, when Republicans controlled both houses of Congress? Even Newt Gingrich’s class of ‘94, determined to shrink the size and scope of government, couldn’t buck the Old Guard, according to the results of this Cato Institute study.

    Shrunken Egos

    In the last two years, the spending increases in bills proposed by freshman House Democrats were 60 percent lower than those sponsored by their more senior colleagues, according to Peter Sepp, vice president for communications at the National Taxpayers’ Union. The GOP freshmen proposed 15 percent more cuts in spending than the old-timers.

    It turns out the old adage is true: The longer they stay, the more they spend. It’s what political scientist James L. Payne calls “The Culture of Spending,” the title of his 1991 book....


    Lifetime Employment

    From 1964 to 2008, the incumbency rate in the House of Representatives averaged 93 percent, according to the Center for Responsive politics, a non-partisan independent research group tracking money in politics. Even in a wave election like the 2010 midterms, where the GOP picked up 63 House seats, the re- election rate was 86 percent, the lowest since 1948.

    So yes, Virginia, we have created a permanent ruling class, something the Founders feared. James Madison worried that without term limits, legislators would serve their narrow self- interest at the expense of the national interest. He was right....

    Cut My Benefit?

    Our elected representatives see a steady stream of constituents traipsing through their offices with requests for government largesse. Aunt Gertrude can’t pay her medical bills. Uncle Roger watched his home and office succumb to a tornado. Cousin Vinny lost his home to foreclosure.

    Like most human beings, lawmakers want to help. So they blithely vote for more spending because, quite simply, if they don’t put their hand in the cookie jar, someone else will.

    When was the last time a constituent walked into his congressman’s office and asked for cuts in popular government programs? Unless you believe in fairy tales, a prerequisite for smaller government is short-term legislators."
  2. pspr


    I think EVERYONE is for term limits on Congress. Except Congressmen and Senators.
  3. clacy


    They spend in order to gain support, votes and donations. It's very simple really. Both sides of the isle does it, but how the two sides want to pay for it, and to whom the spending goes differs.

    Dems typically try to transfer wealth to the poor/lazy via entitlements, unions, trial lawyers and green energy. They want to pay for the spending, by increasing taxes, particularly on the top income earners and businesses, and when for political reasons they cannot push for more taxes, then the will borrow in order to maintain their spending.

    Republicans tend to prefer defense spending as well as subsidies for farmers, and the oil/gas sector. They prefer to borrow as opposed to increasing taxes.
  4. Like most human beings, lawmakers want to help. So they blithely vote for more spending because, quite simply....

    if they don’t put their hand in the cookie jar, someone else will."

    And there you have it, if I don't write the subprime loan, the ABS, MBS trade with Madoff, so on and so forth, "someone else will"
  5. It makes them look like they are working.