Cardin: ‘Spending Will Continue to Rise, But at a Much Slower Rate’ Under Debt Deal

By Edwin Mora | August 2, 2011 | 7:33 PM EDT

Washington ( -- Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Budget Committee, said federal spending will “continue to rise” under the debt limit legislation that cleared Congress and was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Tuesday.

At the Capitol, asked Sen. Cardin, who also is a member of the Senate Committee on Finance, if the federal government will spend less in fiscal 2012 than in fiscal 2011 under the debt limit legislation.

Cardin said, “It’s actually less [spending] money on the discretionary side” but “on the mandatory side, there would be increases in spending because they’re required by law -- and when you balance it out, government spending will continue to rise but at a much, much slower rate. And the Congressional Budget Office tells we wouldn’t see[that]  if we did nothing.”

In response to the same question, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said, “It’s my understanding that they will not spend less [in 2012].”

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.)

Discretionary spending refers to spending determined on an annual basis by Congress for things such as the military, education, energy, and highway projects. Mandatory spending (so-called non-discretionary) is authorized by laws already in place and covers entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the new budget ceiling legislation caps discretionary spending through 2021.

With the spending cap, “the deficit reduction stemming from this legislation would total at least $2.1 trillion over the 2012–2021 period,” states the CBO analysis of the bill.

The bill allows a cumulative debt limit increase of between $2.1 trillion and $2.4 trillion, added the CBO.

Both Sens. Cardin and McCain voted in favor of the debt ceiling legislation.

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who voted against the legislation, said in a statement: “this compromise simply does not go far enough and relies too heavily on out-year cuts. Under this compromise, the FY2012, spending is cut by only $44 billion. In the same year, Obama will increase spending by over $300 billion. Clearly, we are not cutting enough.”