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Bigger Government

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Kerby Andersonnever miss viewpoints

Government gets bigger every year, but how government gets bigger isn’t so easy to understand. There seems to be about the same number of federal employees, but the size and scope of government continues to grow. John DiIulio writes about this in his book and scholarly paper at the Brookings Institution.

Government grows larger by using three types of “administrative proxies.” The first are state and local governments. The EPA, for example, has fewer than 20,000 employees. But 90 percent of EPA programs are completely administered by thousands of state government employees, largely funded by Washington.

Second, there are for-profit businesses and contractors that also mask the large size of the government. In the Defense Department, for example, the hundreds of thousands of civilian workers have been supplemented by hundreds of thousands of for-profit contract employees. Today, the government spends more on defense contracts than it does on all official federal bureaucrats.

Third, there are the various tax-exempt or independent sectors, which have more than doubled in the last thirty years. Many of them owe their jobs to federal or intergovernmental grant, contract, or fee funding.

These facts will be important to remember when Congress and the public debate the federal budget. Although the number of federal employees looks about the same as in previous decades, the federal budget is more than three times larger.

The federal workload has been dispersed and makes government look much smaller than it really is. We do have a big government and should not fall for this federal shell game that tries to hide from taxpayers the real size and scope of government.viewpoints new web version

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