Another One Bites the Dust

Today Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), son of the late Ted Kennedy, will join thirty-one of his House colleagues on the crowded retirement bandwagon. But that’s the little picture. The big picture is this: What will the United States do without a Kennedy in Congress?

Besides a two year vacancy from the time John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960 until his little brother, Teddy, was elected to fill his vacant Senate seat 1962, there has been a Kennedy in Congress since 1946. With the retirement of Patrick, the Kennedy Dynasty has officially gone the way of the Whigs, so to speak.

Since Ted Kennedy’s illustrious career began in 1962 we’ve seen many changes in the size and scope of the federal government. In a nutshell, it’s gotten ginormous.

A few fun facts:

  • In 1962 government spending was around 18% of the GDP
  • In 2009 government spending reached 25% of the GDP
  • In 1962 the federal budget was $107 billion
  • In 2009 the federal budget was $3.5 trillion
  • In 1962 the national debt was $390 billion
  • We are now more than $12 trillion in debt (and climbing rapidly)
  • During the sixteen years Patrick Kennedy has served in Congress federal spending has nearly tripled and the national debt has more than doubled.

The federal programs both Kennedys championed were the essence of the nanny state. In the name of compassion they have worked to saddle us and future generations with debt that cannot be repaid.

They were also loud proponents programs like No Child Left Behind, SCHIP, Medicare prescription drugs and other bloated, inefficient government boondoggles that will not be easy to fix (not to mention that the younger Kennedy, as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, was well known for his ability to bring home lots and lots of pork to his tiny state).

And I’m not even going to mention the many scandals.

So I ask the question again: What will the United States do without a Kennedy in Congress? Answer: A heck of a lot better.