2004 June 15 Tuesday
George W. Bush Is A Big Spender

Tyler Cowen points out a new comparison of Bush's spending decisions as compared to previous presidents.

The following table lists how many of the major agencies or departments had their budgets cut in a given Presidential term:

President and Term, Number of Budget Cuts [see the last link in this post for further explanation of the data. I've done minor editing and added the boldface]

Johnson, 4 out 15
Nixon, 3 out 15
Carter, 5 out 15
Reagan 1, 8 out 15
Reagan 2, 10 out 15
Bush, George H., 2 out 15
Clinton 1, 9 out 15
Clinton 2, 0 out 15
Bush, George W., 0 out 15

Obviously Reagan II made real efforts in this direction. George W. comes in tied for last with Clinton II. This is a highly imperfect proxy, but when you are 0 for 15 it is hard to blame measurement error alone.

This may all sit well with "National Greatness" neocons. But real conservatives find this record infuriating.

This comes the American Enterprise Institute's Veronique de Rugy in an article entitled. Bush Spending--a Comparison: What Should President Bush Learn from President Reagan?

  • President Reagan is the only president to have cut the budget of the Department of Housing and Urban Development in one of his terms (a total of 40.1 percent during his second term).
  • President Reagan is the only president to have cut the budget of the Department of Transportation (by 10.5 percent during his first term and by 7.5 percent during his second term).
  • President George W. Bush has increased funding for the Department of Transportation by 11.3 percent. It is likely to go up drastically if he does not veto the transportation bill currently before Congress.
  • During his first term in office, President Reagan cut the real budget of the Department of Education by 18.6 percent.
  • President George W. Bush has increased the real budget of the Department of Education by 67.9 percent.
  • Reagan managed to cut the budget of the Department of Commerce by 29 percent during his first term and by 3 percent during his second.
  • President Clinton by contrast increased the Department of Commerce's budget by 24 percent in his first term and then by 96.7 percent in his second.
  • President Reagan cut the real budget of the Department of Agriculture by 24 percent during his second term in office. 

Related paper

Well, Bush isn't going to learn anything from Reagan. Reagan was a real conservative. But Bush is a faux conservative and like George H. W. Bush and Clinton he obviously likes growing the government. It is far from clear that John Kerry will be any worse than Dubya. Kerry at least shows some signs of curiosity about the world.

The tragedy of this spending splurge is that there are a few targetted areas for research spending such as in energy research where the public good could be served by more spending. But Bush intends to squeeze research spending in order to pay for his many other programs.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 June 15 02:35 PM  Politics American Domestic

andursonne said at June 15, 2004 3:33 PM:

Hey! It's possible to be disgusted with Bush's spending habits and still be a neocon when it comes to foreign policy.

gcochran said at June 15, 2004 3:48 PM:

It's even more possible to oppose his spending policy and despise his foreign policy. Frankly, I'm beginning to think he's the Antichrist, although I had expected someone taller.

Eric said at June 16, 2004 3:28 AM:

During the golden economy of the second Clinton administration one can not see fault in no cuts Money was falling from the sky. during George B. first term it was such a close election and he needed the Demons (I mean Democrats) to get anything done, so he had to pay them off, and they were not going to cooperate with him on anything even after 9/11 because of the disputed election (which if Gore had ascended to the thrown then it really would have been a crooked election), it was all back door politics that had them staying true to America and George knew if the spending was sold as security (Which the lions share was) then he could continue to spend even though a down turn in revenue in take because of the bubble burst right before his term started. Now that allot of the security holes have been fixed and if he wins this election with even a 1% lead he can become more of a cutter of expense, But don't forget we are at war with a religion that gives no quarter and it is really not the time to stop spending, Did they stop spending during the CW, WWI or WWII, I don't think so. This is WWV! Everybody is just not aware of it yet. Both WWI and WWII started similar.
May GOD bless this country! May the darkest times be over, My fear is we have yet to see the worst and the worst is coming the wait is not long, 9/11 will be but a stream that feed a river, only a unified people will erect the Dam or its groups will be washed to the ocean. As this war waged by the religion of hate has done in the past to all those it conquers it seems to be doing now and we its victim will surely not survive as our property and souls will be lost to those that are of evil mind and sprit.

Randall Parker said at June 16, 2004 10:33 AM:


I do not understand your argument. Are you telling me that in order to get increases in defense and national security spending thru Congress Bush had to accept increases in social spending as part of the deal? That that interpretation does not hold up to a close reading of the legislative record. Congress has been quite willing to spend on homeland defense. The drug benefit was passed with Bush pushing for it since Bush wants to make sure he wins Florida and a few other states with older demographics.

Face it, Bush spends for his own political benefit in order to win reelection. He also panders to Hispanics over immigration again in order to win reelection

God could bless our country by replacing the President with someone more morally principled, more curious, and more competent. As it stands now when I look at Bush I do not see signs of blessings from on high.

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