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Cato: Federal Government creates 2,000th subsidy

The conservative Cato Institute, which likes to keep track of such things, notes that the federal government has passed the 2,000 mark in the number of federal subsidies it maintains. (Two new ones at the Justice Department pushed the number to 2,001.)

Each one of us is touched by some form of federal subsidy, be it the Medicare subscription drug subsidy (the biggest by far), an EPA community action grant or a local firefighter staffing grant.

Cato maintains that we're no better off with these subsidies, that there is no advantage to federalizing these subsidies, Cato's Chris Edwards writes.

Whether you agree or not, one man's subsidy is another man's pork and can be easily mocked and marked for cutting. They've been growing steadily since 1970, save for a brief Reagan-era cutback in 1985, and they exploded during the Bush 43 years.

Now that we've topped 2,000 subsidies, let's see how they break down:

-- The Department of Health and Human Services is the government's No. 1 giver of subsidies, with nearly 400. Subsidies from that agency have included Bush's "healthy marriage promotion."

-- Lagging in the No. 2 spot is the Department of Agriculture, with a little more than 200 subsidies. (Ethanol, anyone?)

-- Most tellingly, the Small Business Administration -- you know, the agency that's supposed to mind the sector of the U.S. economy that creates 80 percent of our jobs? -- administers only about 25 subsidies.

Follow me on Twitter at @theticker.

By Frank Ahrens  |  January 25, 2010; 3:38 PM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Cato Institute, Department of Agriculture, Department of Health and Human Service, George Bush, Reagan, Small Business Administration, subsidies  
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