Thursday, November 3, 2011

Government Spending

Government spending is front and center these days.  Even now, the new congressional select committee has just a few days to come up with $1.5 trillion in cuts or automatic cuts of $1.2 trillion go into effect starting in 2013 (to be phased in over ten years).  Should this scenario play out, the Department of Defense will shoulder half of those cuts.  November 23rd is the drop dead date for the committee to submits it’s proposal to the Congress. 

One common and perhaps persistent misperception is that Democratic presidents are much bigger spenders than their Republican counterparts.  To evaluate this, I looked at our two most recent presidents: Clinton & Bush Jr.  I didn’t include Obama because he hasn’t served at least one full term yet.

I used data from the CBO on defense and non-defense spending.  I then graphed spending during the Clinton years and during the Bush years.  The last graph shows percent change from year to year, beginning in 1991.

Looks like Bush, a Republican, is the bigger spender here.  Of course, 9/11 happened on Bush’s watch, and that certainly played a role in the increase in spending.  One thing is for sure, those who claim government isn’t spending enough are flat wrong.

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