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Press Release

    Fiscal Restraint: Responsible Spending for a Strong Economy

    09/25/2001

    A war against terrorism is a costly endeavor that will require a significant share of the government’s resources. Because overall spending will almost undoubtedly increase, it is especially important to exercise fiscal discipline and avoid waste. Congress must prioritize America’s needs and avoid excessive spending on wasteful government programs that stymie economic growth.

    Won’t the government need more money if we go to war?
    Increased funds will surely be dedicated toward rescue, rebuilding, and anti-terrorist efforts. Already President Bush and Congress have approved a $40 billion emergency spending package as well as a $15 billion airline bailout. However, these funds – and all future appropriations – should not be rubberstamped in the name of patriotism. Appropriators must be frugal and practical, even in a time of tragedy. Congress should look for ways to reduce waste and eliminate pork, especially as the nation faces the possibility of increased spending demands.

    Is wasteful spending a significant problem?
    Yes. Citizens Against Government Waste identified $18.5 billion worth of pork barrel spending in the 2001 budget. In a report by the Senate Committee on Government Affairs, Sen. Fred Thompson noted that there was over $35 billion in waste, fraud, and mismanagement in a single year. Sen. Thompson also acknowledged that this was just the tip of the iceberg as they accounted for only a few examples of fiscal misuse!

    How do we know which spending items are wasteful?
    It is sometimes difficult, in such a bloated and complex federal government, to identify specific wasteful programs. However items like pork barrel spending, which benefit a single Congressman’s district or state at the expense of millions of taxpayers, are a clear misuse of government funds. Waste will always exist in the federal budget; establishing spending priorities and trimming away at the federal bureaucracy would be a good first step toward identifying and eliminating waste – with or without a national crisis.

    How can fiscal restraint help the economy?
    Minimizing government spending would help curb the growth of unnecessary government programs. A smaller government would require less tax revenues and thereby reduce the likelihood of tax increases. Additionally, this would free up money that could be injected into the private sector through tax cuts or other pro-growth policies. The private sector has driven our economy, creating jobs and increasing our nation’s wealth. Our future prosperity relies on a strong market with access to capital. Government spending or higher taxes that reduce the resources available to the private sector can ultimately weaken our nation and our ability to thwart terrorist threats. Prudent fiscal policy must avoid weakening our economy.