WASHINGTON - The U.S. government is spending money like never before. Billions of dollars being used to stimulate the economy, save banks and expand federal programs. But is the money being spent wisely?
With economists forecasting growth in the horizon, some are asking did we need a stimulus at all?
Government Will Have to Borrow 46 Cents On The Dollar
Whether it is building new roads, bailing out banks or beefing up our borders -for every one dollar the government spends this year, it will have to borrow nearly half - 46 cents on the dollar.
With historic levels of spending, that balloons the federal deficit to a record $1.8 trillion according to new White House estimates, nearly 13 percent of the overall economy.
The figures come as the White House completes the official release of the 2010 budget and overshadows the $17 billion in cuts President Obama announced last week.
"The 121 budget cut we are announcing today will save tax payers nearly $17 billion dollars next year alone," Obama said on May 7. "And even by Washington standards that should be considered a lot of money."
But that amounts to only one-half of one percent of the entire proposed $3.5 trillion budget.
In April, the president ordered his cabinet to trim $100 million in unnecessary spending.
"Line by line, page by page - a $100 million here, a $100 million there," the president said at his April 20 cabinet meeting. "Pretty soon, even in Washington, it adds up to real money."
And sooner, rather than later, Washington will be badly in need of more money.
Will Social Security and Medicare Run Out Of Money?
New reports out Tuesday show Social Security and Medicare will run out of money sooner than projected just one year ago.
With 5.7 million jobs slashed from the payrolls since December, and unemployment at a 25-year high, fewer people working means less money going into the trust funds.
On the sunnier side, White House economists predict the economy will continue to shrink this year, but grow by 3.2 percent next year.
That is a healthier rebound than what Congress and private economists have predicted.
Still, with what some are calling hopeful signs of recovery, others are asking if all the spending to stimulate the economy is really necessary or if the money is going where it's needed the most.
According to an Associated Press review of more than 5,000 transportation projects, it found the counties hardest hit with job losses get the least help from stimulus dollars on roads and bridges. More money goes to communities where the jobless rates are already lower.
*Originally aired May 12, 2009