Sunday, December 13, 2009

Senate Passes $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill

on Sunday. Since when have they been this hard-working?

On the 57-35 vote, the U.S. Senate approved $1.1 trillion spending bill on Sunday and sent the bill to Obama to sign.

Senate sends $1.1 trillion spending bill to Obama
(12/13/09 AP via Yahoo Finance)

"WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate on Sunday passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill with increased budgets for vast areas of the federal government, including health, education, law enforcement and veterans' programs.

"The more-than-1,000-page package, one of the last essential chores of Congress this year, passed 57-35 and now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.

"The weekend action underlined the legislative crush faced by Congress as it tries to wind up the year. After the vote, the Senate immediately returned to the debate on health care legislation that has consumed its time and energy for weeks. Senate Democrats hope to reach a consensus in the coming days on Obama's chief domestic priority.

"The spending bill combines six of the 12 annual appropriation bills for the 2010 budget year that began Oct. 1. Obama has signed into law five others.

"The final one, a $626 billion defense bill, will be used as the base bill for another catch-all package of measures that Congress must deal with in the coming days. Those include action to raise the $12.1 trillion debt ceiling and proposals to stimulate the job market."

Here are some items in the bill I gleaned out of the article:

  • $447 billion for departmental operating budgets(the departments are part of the Executive Branch of the government) - 10% increase over last year;
  • $640 billion for federal benefit programs (Medicare, Medicaid);
  • 2 % pay raise for federal workers.

The average pay of the federal workers is $71,206, with those workers receiving 6-figure compensations dramatically increasing. In contrast, the average pay of the private sector is $40,331. (Read this article on USA Today, on 12/11/09.) That means federal workers earn, on average, 76.6% more than private sector workers.

So, with $1.1 trillion just for federal government spending, and $626 billion defense bill still to come, the total is already $1.726 trillion. And the Congressional Democrats want to raise the debt limit by $1.8 trillion so that they can avoid an embarrassing situation of having to raise that again in the election year. Good luck with that.

Here's an interesting chart I created by changing parameters from the original chart at It is a chart of the government's deficit spending as percentage of national GDP, since 1792. Notice four sharp spikes; they correspond to war-time spending - Civil War, World War I, and World War II, except the current one. The current deficit spending binge has already surpassed the Civil War level, and approaching the World War I level. It looks it would take a gargantuan effort for the President to match FDR, but never say never, particularly when he has a self-proclaimed expert on the Great Depression as the Federal Reserve chairman.

Well I guess you could say the current one is also a war-time spending. The U.S. are indeed still fighting a war in Iraq, another one in Afghanistan, another covert one in Pakistan, and may set to embark on yet another (Iran, anyone?). You could say also that the government is waging war against its own citizens by rapidly eroding what remains of civil liberty and free market.