Spreading the wealth
A quarter of the federal budget is administered by the fewer than 5,000 employees of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services — and by the states, at least half of whose administrative costs are paid by CMS. Various federal crime and homeland security bills help fund local police departments.
“By conservative estimates,” DiIulio writes, “there are about 3 million state and local government workers” — about 50 percent more than the number of federal workers — “funded via federal grants and contracts.”
Then there are for-profit contractors, used, DiIulio says, “by every federal department, bureau and agency.”
Finally, “employment in the tax-exempt or independent sector more than doubled between 1977 and 2012 to more than 11 million.” Approximately one-third of the revenues to nonprofits (e.g., Planned Parenthood) flow in one way or another from government.
“If,” DiIulio calculates, “only one-fifth of the 11 million nonprofit sector employees owe their jobs to federal or intergovernmental grant, contract or fee funding, that’s 2.2 million workers” — slightly more than the official federal workforce.
To which add the estimated 7.5 million for-profit contractors. Plus the conservative estimate of 3 million federally funded employees of state and local governments. To this total of more than 12 million, add the approximately 2 million actual federal employees. This 14 million is about 10 million more than the federal employees and contractors during the Eisenhower administration.
So, today’s government is indeed big, but dispersed to disguise its size. Many Americans are rhetorically conservative but behaviorally liberal. So, they are given government that is not limited but overleveraged — debt-financed, meaning partially paid for by future generations — and administered by proxies.
The government/for-profit contractor/nonprofit complex consumes 40 percent of GDP. Just don’t upset anyone by calling it “big government.”