Thursday, May 04, 2006

Government Spending as a Percent of GDP

Is Bush a big spender? The Volohk Conspiracy got me thinking about this again.
He has certaintly disappointed me in many ways, but I'm not sure he gets a fair rap as a big spender.

First, some of the criticisms look at discretionary spending. This is kind of a arbitrary cut (who said government handouts were mandatory?). Also, this might actually be the least objectionable governement spending. Even Locke and Mill saw some role for defense, police and education.

Second, you really need to look at the long term promises for more spending. For example, the government made many promises for future spending under Carter that came due under Reagan. The cash accounting system of the government does not take this into account. See this Heritage article for more.

Third, the Bush increases are small compared to the new deal as show in the charts below. Notice that the receipts chart is more in line with what would be expected from the parties than the outlays.



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