Bush Spends More Than LBJ?

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in General Politics, Money

You can say you’re one thing all you want, but if the evidence proves otherwise…

From McClatchy:

WASHINGTON — George W. Bush, despite all his recent bravado about being an apostle of small government and budget-slashing, is the biggest spending president since Lyndon B. Johnson. In fact, he’s arguably an even bigger spender than LBJ.

“He’s a big government guy,” said Stephen Slivinski, the director of budget studies at Cato Institute, a libertarian research group.

The numbers are clear, credible and conclusive, added David Keating, the executive director of the Club for Growth, a budget-watchdog group.

“He’s a big spender,” Keating said. “No question about it.”

Cato Institute. Club For Growth. You can’t get more fiscally conservative than those two organizations.

Still more comparisons…

When adjusted for inflation, discretionary spending — or budget items that Congress and the president can control, including defense and domestic programs, but not entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare — shot up at an average annual rate of 5.3 percent during Bush’s first six years, Slivinski calculates.

That tops the 4.6 percent annual rate Johnson logged during his 1963-69 presidency. By these standards, Ronald Reagan was a tightwad; discretionary spending grew by only 1.9 percent a year on his watch.

Discretionary spending went up in Bush’s first term by 48.5 percent, not adjusted for inflation, more than twice as much as Bill Clinton did (21.6 percent) in two full terms, Slivinski reports.

And would you like to know how much spending grew under Carter? 2.4%…less than half of Bush’s spending rate!

Amazing.


This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 24th, 2007 and is filed under General Politics, Money. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

12 Responses to “Bush Spends More Than LBJ?”

  1. Jim S Says:

    “When adjusted for inflation, discretionary spending — or budget items that Congress and the president can control, including defense and domestic programs, but not entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare — shot up at an average annual rate of 5.3 percent during Bush’s first six years, Slivinski calculates.”

    Can you say earmarks gone wild?

  2. Jeremy Says:

    Can you say the patients are running the asylum? These supposed “fiscal conservatives” are lining their pockets and Americans are asleep at the wheel.

    The Vietnam War diverted the money LBJ had appropriated for the so-called “Great Society.” The Great Society didn’t turn out to be so great after all. This president doesn’t even pretend to care, he’s worried about a few million children getting “socialized medicine” but he has little difficulty in borrowing money from the Chinese to pay for his corrupt war. It’s okay though, Bush and company don’t draw Social Security for their retirements, they don’t have to worry about paying for end of life health care, they’ve made “plans.”

    As we Americans debate the efficacy of our entitlement plans and how we are going to pay for them, the money that could go to making these programs more solvent are going straight into the pockets of war profiteers. These aren’t honorable Americans, these are criminals. They aren’t just stealing hard working, honest Americans’ money they are sullying the integrity of this country.

  3. bob in fla Says:

    We can’t exactly say this is news, really. Someone just finally put some figures together to show how bad it is. It has been too long since I tried to figure out compound interest, but that means roughly a 40% total increase since he took office.

    Remember in the 80s when the Republicans were saying we wouldn’t have these increasing deficits if they controlled the Congress? Guess what? Sounds like they were wrong & still are.

    Earmarks, my ass!

  4. sleipner Says:

    Gee, I always thought Reagan was the biggest spending president prior to Bush. I usually refer to him as the Father of the National Debt, or the Father of the AIDS genocide. Either way, not so good.

    At least LBJ had the excuse of a war someone else started. Bush only has the excuse of an unnecessary war that he manufactured intel to start.

  5. mw Says:

    I know you guys are going to be shocked to hear this from me, but what Slivinski is documenting here is the effect of divided vs. unified government. The two biggest spenders are GWB and LB J. LBJ led a unified Democratic Government. GWB led a unified Republican government. Since GWB faced a divided government this year, spending increases have dropped to around 3%.

    To my knowledge, William Niskanen, former Reagan Ecomonic Advisor, was the first to document this effect.

    Slivinski has made this comparison of GWB to LBJ before. He noted it an analysis last year and in his book “Buck Wild”.

  6. mw Says:

    I know you guys are going to be shocked to hear this from me, but what Slivinski is documenting here is the effect of divided vs. unified government. The two biggest spenders are GWB and LB J. LBJ led a unified Democratic Government. GWB led a unified Republican government. Since GWB faced a divided government this year, spending increases have dropped to around 3%.

    To my knowledge, William Niskanen, former Reagan Ecomonic Advisor, was the first to spending increases have dropped to around 3%.

    To my knowledge, William Niskanen, former Reagan Ecomonic Advisor, was the first to document this effect.

    Slivinski has made this comparison of GWB to LBJ before. He noted it an analysis last year and in his book “Buck Wild”.”>document this effect.

    Slivinski has made this comparison of GWB to LBJ before. He noted it an analysis last year and in his book “Buck Wild”.

  7. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    3 questions the article fails to address:

    How much has the country earned in GDP over that period of time? Have taxes increased or decreased? Is the budget deficit increasing or decreasing?

  8. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    3 questions the article fails to address:

    How much has the country earned in GDP over that period of time? Have taxes increased or decreased? Is the budget deficit increasing or decreasing ?

  9. Tom Grey Says:

    The real issue is this: if Bush is such a big spender, why don’t more Dems support him? Any Dem who really wants higher gov’t spending should be supporting Reps (for Pres) — since Rep Presidents get more spending out of Congress than Dem Presidents.

    The obvious reality of Bush trying to “compromise” with Dems, by spending “more than he wants”, has totally failed to get any credit by almost any Dems. Unlike how, when Clinton compromised on welfare reform, and NAFTA (giving Reps what they wanted), quite a few Clinton-hating Reps at least gave him credit for doing the right things.

    The double-speaking “Bush doesn’t spend enough on X” Bush-hate, combined with “Bush is spending more then everybody else” is NOT a pair of internally consistent critiques.

    Dems … complain about Bush not spending enough;
    Dems … complain about Bush spending “too much”.

    Well, there is a leeetle bit of consistency.
    Dems … complain about Tax Cuts!

    Dems want to simplify the 1040 into two lines:
    1) How much did you make?
    2) send it in.

  10. SaneInSF Says:

    Jimmy’s got it right. This is yet another article that takes a small statistic and misses the big picture.

    You’re losing your credibility, Donkey-Fant.

  11. mw Says:

    “Jimmy’s got it right. This is yet another article that takes a small statistic and misses the big picture.” – NotAllThatSaneInSF

    Actually, Jimmy’s got it wrong. The big picture issue is the growth of government spending. And for that particular big picture issue, the only stat that matters is the very big (not little) statistic that is the focus of this well researched article – percentage increase in discretionary spending. And no, it is not all about defense. From the article:

    “But Bush’s super-spending is about far more than defense and homeland security.

    Brian Riedl, a budget analyst at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research group, points to education spending. Adjusted for inflation, it’s up 18 percent annually since 2001, thanks largely to Bush’s No Child Left Behind act.

    The 2002 farm bill, he said, caused agriculture spending to double its 1990s levels.

    Then there was the 2003 Medicare prescription drug benefit — the biggest single expansion in the program’s history — whose 10-year costs are estimated at more than $700 billion.

    And the 2005 highway bill, which included thousands of “earmarks,” or special local projects stuck into the legislation by individual lawmakers without review, cost $295 billion.

    “He has presided over massive increases in almost every category … a dramatic change of pace from most previous presidents,” said Slivinski.”

    This is about single party control of both the executive and legislature undermining the checks and balances of our government. And no, it will not be any different under a single party Democrat government either. Just different lobbyists.

    Finally Tom. The question is not “…why don’t more Dems support him?” The right question is Why would any self-respecting conservative support him? Bush had an opportunity to “walk the walk” and rein in the corrupt spending of his own party – led by Delay and Hastert. He failed.

  12. Divided We Stand United We Fall Says:

    GWB vs. LBJ Redux…

    The column got a lot of attention in the blogosphere and MSM, including the Washington Post, James Joyner at Outside The Beltway, Justin Gardner at Donklephant, Steven Reynolds at the All Spin Zone, 6SpeedTA95 at The Liberty Lounge, The Street.com, Gra…

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