You Can Vote For Smaller Government…

…but there is no empirical evidence that you can get it. There is only one trend in government spending: up. That is the depressing message of this IBD editorial:

When Republicans took control of the House in January, they pledged to make deep cuts in federal spending, and in April they succeeded in passing a bill advertised as cutting $38 billion from fiscal 2011’s budget. Then in August, they pushed for a deal to cut an additional $2.4 trillion over the next decade. …

But data released by the Treasury Department on Friday show that, so far, there haven’t been any spending cuts at all.

In fact, in the first nine months of this year, federal spending was $120 billion higher than in the same period in 2010, the data show. That’s an increase of almost 5%. And deficits during this time were $23.5 billion higher.

As always, a picture is worth a thousand words. These graphs show state and federal spending from 2000 through 2010 (in the case of state spending) or FY 2011 (in the case of federal spending):

Note the burst in federal spending in FY 2009; that was the ill-fated stimulus bill. In the two fiscal years since then, federal spending has resumed the inexorable climb that has been going on for decades. We are always hearing about budget cuts, but the reality is that government budgets are virtually never cut. Reallocated sometimes, but not cut.