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The 'wartime' deficit
12 September 2004 - Orange County Register

Letter-writer Sean-Patrick Lane defends the increasing deficit that the federal government is running as a "wartime deficit”. This explanation is disingenuous to say the least. While it’s certainly understandable for defense-related spending to rise and increase the deficit during wartime, the same cannot be said for non-defense discretionary spending. The funding for discretionary spending has to be re-allocated on a yearly basis, and is the kind of spending a president has the most control over.

Consider the Reagan administration. At the height of the cold war - and with a Democrat-dominated Congress – defense-related spending increases were about on par with the increases we’re seeing now, but non-defense discretionary spending was reduced by 14%. Conversely, non-defense spending has skyrocketed by 18%-20% in the first three years of the current administration. The difference? Reagan had the guts to veto 22 spending bills in his first three years – Bush hasn’t vetoed a single spending bill since he was sworn in.

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