Size of Federal Government Remains Basically Unchanged

Even after countless budget battles in Washington, the size of the federal government is basically unchanged.

The Washington Post reports the feds are on pace to spend $3.455 trillion this year. That’s barely changed from 2010’s $3.457 trillion.

The number of federal workers is also basically unchanged – 4.1 million today compared with 4.3 million in 2010 (that number includes both military and civilian employees).

“For all the brave talk, one single fact has trumped all this great rhetoric. Most of the people who came in saying, ‘We’re going to change Washington,’ simply didn’t understand Washington,” said Steve Bell, a longtime Republican staffer who now works at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Bell’s point is that today’s politicians do not understand the political forces that produce and then protect inefficient programs. Or the difficulty of changing the social-benefit programs — such as Medicare and Social Security — that spend the bulk of Washington’s money.

“That kind of hard-edged budget work . . . is just too complicated. And just too politically incendiary, for this town to do,” Bell said. “That’s why this town hasn’t done it.”