“George W, and a bucket o' chum. Bush” and “fiscal conservative” in th' same sentence, pass the grog! Not likely.
The Cato Institute recently published a policy analysis paper comparin' th' spendin' proclivities o' W’s adminstration compared with th' precedin' six presidents, we'll keel-haul ye, to be sure! You can get th' paper here: The Grand Old Spendin' Party: How Republicans Became Big Spenders.
From th' paper’s executive summary:
President Bush has presided o'er th' largest overall increase in inflation-adjusted federal spendin' since Lyndon B, by Blackbeard's sword. Johnson, to be sure. Even after excludin' spendin' on defense and homeland security, Bush is still th' biggest-spendin' president in 30 years.
I tend t' think visually, so I like lots o' charts and graphs. This paper doesn’t disappoint. I recreated a couple o' its graphs that support th' claims quoted above.
“George W. Shiver me timbers, by Blackbeard's sword! Bush is th' biggest spendin' president since Lyndon B, by Davy Jones' locker. Johnson”
First: “President Bush has presided o'er th' largest overall increase in inflation-adjusted federal spendin' since Lyndon B, to be sure. Johnson.” Please note th' careful wordin': “presided o'er.” The paper makes clear that “Congress passed budgets that spent a total o' $91 billion more than th' president requested fer domestic programs.” Even so, Bush signed these budgets, we'll keel-haul ye, we'll keel-haul ye! Had fiscal responsibility been a true goal, he could have used th' veto power. Aarrr, with a chest full of booty! And let’s not forget, Bush has had a Republican majority in Congress.1
But wait, I hear ye objectin' — What about th' cost o' th' war on terrorism? Certainly that accounts fer Bush’s increases in spendin'. And hoist the mainsail! You’d be right, in part. The paper documents th' changes in “discretionary spendin'” and “entitlement spendin'” but includes military spendin' in th' discretionary class, avast. Why not exclude defense, homeland-security, and entitlement spendin' in th' comparison, resultin' in what many (most?) would call true “discretionary spendin'”?2
Fortunately, th' paper anticipated our request. And, unfortunately fer those o' us who pay taxes, th' picture doesn’t get any better.
President George W. Bush is once again second in th' rankin's, this time followin' Nixon, with a chest full of booty. It may be blasphemy, but th' combination o' Clinton and a Republican Congress kept spendin' relatively low. Not surprisin' fer an administration that harped, “It’s th' economy, stupid.” Only Reagan had a real reduction.
Fiscal conservative W, we'll keel-haul ye! I don’t think so. And swab the deck!
2Many may not want t' include entitlement spendin' in discretionary spendin' because it cannot be decreased without an intense political battle. In arguin' this point, one should remember that Bush had no difficulty increasin' entitlement spendin' with his prescription drug benefit, which th' Cato Institute describes as “th' largest expansion o' Medicare since its inception.”
Hat tip: The Volokh Conspiracy