Federal Spending Was on ‘Starvation Diet’ During Bush Years, Says Democratic Senator

By Terence P. Jeffrey | February 8, 2009 | 11:38 PM EST

(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said yesterday that some of the spending in the $819-billion stimulus passed by the House of Representatives last week represented important federal spending priorities needed to “make-up for a starvation diet under the Bush Administration.”
McCaskill indicated that the question wasn’t whether all the money approved in the House bill should be spent but whether it should be included in the stimulus bill that Congress is rushing through this month in an effort to spur the struggling economy or in regular appropriations bills that will be approved later in the year.
The so-called stimulus bill that was drafted over the weekend in the Senate is reported by the Associated Press to contemplate spending $827 billion--or about $8 billion more than the $819 billion stimulus bill that was approved by the House.  The $827-billion Senate bill reportedly has the support of all 58 senators who caucus with the Democrats and 3 Republicans—Senators Arlen Specter (R.-Pa.), Olympia Snowe (R.-Me.) and Susan Collins (R-Me.)--giving it more than the 60 votes needed to defeat a filibuster.
“Senator, you said about the House bill that in fact they did bloat it up with some spending, and they provided ammunition to Republicans to shoot this thing down and take over some of the political argument.  Is that still what you believe?” David Gregory, host of NBC’s “Meet the Press” asked McCaskill.
“I do think that there was some spending in the bill that was makeup for a starvation diet under the Bush administration, some important priorities of our party; frankly, of the American people,” said McCaskill. “And the question is does it belong in the stimulus bill or does it belong in the appropriations bill?  I think some of the money that we cut in the compromise to get the votes that we, that we have was, in fact, spending that more appropriately should go in an appropriations bill.”
In 2000, the year before President George W. Bush took office, total federal expenditures were $1.78 trillion, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget. This year, the last budget approved under Bush--total federal expenditures are expected to be $3.1 trillion—not counting whatever amount the Congress approves for a stimulus package.
Under the “starvation diet” imposed by the Bush Administration, the annual federal budget grew by 1.32 trillion.
In 1989, when President Reagan left office, according to the OMB, all federal expenditures equaled only $1.14 trillion.