the great communicator and the big spender

George W. Bush is increasingly being compared to Ronald Reagan. Democrats accost him for being like Reagan while Republicans praise him for it. It is a fact that like Bush, Reagan came to Washington with an ambitious plan to cut taxes across the board and increase defense spending while containing federal spending. President Reagan successfully lightened the tax burden on the American people, and oversaw a massive defense spending build-up. Given President Bush’s recent push for more pro-growth tax cuts combined with increased defense spending for the war on terrorism, the analogy is tempting. However, at this stage in his presidency, Mr. Bush’s dismal record on spending when measured against Mr. Reagan’s nullifies this temptation. Better yet, in light of President Bush’s spending it looks like it would be more accurate to compare him to Jimmy Carter than Reagan.

Let’s look at the facts. If we compare the three-year percentage change in real spending during Reagan and Bush’s first terms, President Bush comes out as a profligate spender on his own and as compared to Reagan. Under President Bush, real total outlays are estimated to increase by 13.5 percent as opposed to 6.8 percent under Reagan. More importantly, total real discretionary outlays are set to increase by 19.5 percent under the Bush administration while they increased by only 2.8 percent under Reagan.

it’s a rather cruel cut to imply that dubya is similar to jimmy carter in anything that he does….there’s not much (if anything) jimmy carter did right as president. more numbers and artwork here (from the cato institute) to support this claim. bush 43 just can’t say no to new spending. it’s not just defense spending either, where significant increases in the amount allocated to that part of the budget are to be expected post 9-11. the numbers here represent president bush’s unwillingness to stop his own party from wasting our money. this is not to say that there is no economic benefit to tax cuts, because this can be easily proven. however, we can’t continue on this current spending spree. we must cut up the government credit cards, before our country suffers the economic decline of the majority of european countries.

reagan and bush have a few things in common, but their economic policies were vastly different, in theory and in practice. reagan used the veto on occasion, but bush doesn’t seem to believe in using his. bipartisanship doesn’t always produce good policy. neither does proposing legislation that ted kennedy will support.

we can blame the republicans and the democrats as well as our president. everyone should share the blame and the consequences of their reckless behavior on spending. i hope that the ’06 election will bring some accountability to the “leadership” in DC. big government has returned, and it must be destroyed before it causes further damage.


(pdf)on spending, bush is no reagan — cato institute
Bush vs. the Deficit Hawks —
Reagan vs. Bush: Federal Spending and Budget Deficits–real clear politics

9 thoughts on “the great communicator and the big spender

  1. You can compare the two (Carter/Dubya) when they both agree that there is nothing wrong with port security and UAE situation.

    But you are right he isn’t like Carter. I don’t think he’s like Reagan. Nope, he’s like nobody the US has ever experienced rule under (unfortunately).

  2. I’m really conflicted about the port security question. I’ve heard many convincing arguments on both sides. The fact that Carter is supporting Bush on this scares me quite a bit. I’m also troubled by those who want to make this a race issue just because we are concerned about a country who may have some ties to terrorists having any level of control on our ports. It’s just not the way to convince anybody that we have nothing to worry about. I think I need to find someone with a better argument for this port deal. Right now, I’m leaning toward being opposed to it.

  3. Now this place looks awesome. I didn’t realize you had a new site. I’m really digging the layout here. I wish I knew more about webpage development and stuff. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

    I will paste my questions here:

    I am little confused with these two sentences, “bipartisanship doesn’t always produce good policy. neither does proposing legislation that ted kennedy will support.”

    Firstly, I suppose I’m just lost as to where Kennedy fits into this. But maybe I’m not reading the post right at all. So I apologize for that.

    Secondly, does the bipartisanship comment mean that the current economic situation and the fed’s budget woes are the result of bipartisanship?

    If I’m reading this totally wrong then I apologize. I’ve been reading all day and I’m having trouble making sense of everything right now.

  4. MJ,

    Yeah…this will be the new home of this blog. πŸ™‚ I dig the layout too, and I wish I could take credit for it. (My web hosts have an outrageous number of different templates to pick from and modify, so I just picked one I liked…)

    Anyway, to your questions. I want to point out first of all that you are not obligated to comment on all of my posts, especially since you are quite good at picking them apart. πŸ˜›

    It’s understandable that you would get lost on the Kennedy reference. It was just an off-the-cuff remark that I left in there because I don’t think that Bush gains anything by giving Democrats concessions, including any collaborations with Ted Kennedy. Here was the point I was trying to make: It’s been suggested that Dubya tried too hard in the beginning to get along with Democrats. This included making bad concessions on legislation, including related spending. It could also be the case (and I’m not ruling this out) that Bush is not the kind of conservative that we wanted him to be in the area of fiscal discipline, and in fact, never was. There’s convincing evidence to support that.

    The economic situation is a result of Democrats and Republicans recklessly spending our money. It’s been pretty well argued that budget control has been better with a White House and Congress of different parties. That was true with both Reagan and Clinton. I don’t think Bush 43 is committed to fiscal conservatism, and we have seen the results of that in our economy.

    Now, there are some other factors in evaluating the economy under Bush, including 9-11, Katrina, and so on. But he’s not doing a very good job with the spending he can control, and keeping his Republican friends from writing blank checks.

    I’m not putting all the blame on the Democrats for excessive government spending. I think they are part of the problem as well as the Republicans. But I don’t see Bush getting any credit from the Democrats he has tried to get along with, especially Ted Kennedy.

  5. Very nice place indeed.

    I’m sure I’m not obligated, but you just provoke me so well πŸ™‚ I’ve missed a couple of posts here and there.

    Yeah the Ted Kennedy thing did appear to be a hanger to me, but that’s okay. I just thought I missed something in the entire post. Glad to see that I’m not totally losing my mind.

    I do have to disagree about Bush trying too hard in the beginning to get along with Dems. But those are just both of our perceptions and neither one of us will probably budge from them πŸ™‚

    I’m not sure it’s accurate to say the blame for the reckless, out of control budget, rising national debt, should be shared by both parties. And I do not know of anywhere in any budget where Bush has giving concessions to the Dems.

    In fact the fiscal budget 2006 narrowly passed 52-47 in the senate- striclty along party lines. If concessions were made to the Dems, or let’s say to two Dems, wouldn’t that have meant that at least some Dems would have voted for the budget? None did.

    In the House the fiscal year 2006 budget passed 214-211, with I think 7 Repubs joining the Dems in voting against the budget. Meaning, again, not one Dem voted for the budget. So if concessions were made to Dems, or Dem leaders, wouldn’t they had voted in favor of their comprimise?

    Sorry, I’m not trying to bash you at all. I’m just trying to say that Republicans can’t have it both ways. I would think that if everything was all rosey and there was a balanced budget with a surplus and the dow was sky-rocketing, then I seriously doubt that Republicans would want to “share” in the success. If you can’t share the success, then you can’t share the blame. These budgets are Republican fiscal management fair and square.

    The same for fiscal year ’05, and ’04.

    When things are good Bush is in charge. And when things are bad, Bush is in charge. The minority party rarely has any control over ways and means. And for most of the last five years Dems have rarely even been invited to leadership ways and means negotioations.

    But I do agree, it’s very hard to get along with Ted Kennedy. Him and Frist both need to go.

    Sorry if this sounds rough, I’m not meaning it to at all.

  6. MJ,

    You win. I probably shouldn’t have connected the spending to Bush making concessions to Democrats. You have the numbers, so I concede the point. What I had in mind there was No Child Left Behind and the Medicare prescription drug benefit plan, which I think were a result of the collaboration of Bush and Kennedy. Am I correct in assuming that?

    Like I said…I can’t make a convincing opposing argument to that comment. So, you win this round. Maybe I will have better luck with my next post.

  7. aaaaawwww… don’t concede, never.

    I don’t like to be right. I think the Dems do hold a large amount of responsibility for the government’s failures in legislating. I just don’t think it’s accurate to state the Dems are equally to blame considering that the Republican Party completely and decisively controls all three branches of government.

    I’m not sure about the No Child Left Behind program being a collaboration. That happened before I came over to the staff I’m on now. I have heard, though, that Teddy does have his hands on it. But the Medicare is all Bush. In fact, the one Bush submitted was better than the one the Republican Congress passed. After the indicted Republican leaders got a hold of it, it didn’t even appear to be the same policy. And I’m surprised Bush did not veto it. Actually I’m than surprised.

    But don’t concede to me, the issue is definitely worth the research and the attention. And thanks for always being so civil.

  8. I don’t think I ever said that the Democrats and Republicans were equally to blame for spending. They are not, obviously. I will point out, however, that the Democrats could have taken the opportunity to criticize the spending and propose cuts if they disagreed with the way the money was being spent. I know that they probably couldn’t have stopped the Republicans as far as votes were concerned, but they didn’t really seem interested in putting up a fight on this. It’s understandable given the conventional wisdom about voters wanting their representatives to bring home the bacon to their district. (I’m not sure that the CW is still correct, but it’s a common theory.)

    I try not to sling mud. I think that sometimes partisans on both sides are more interested in name-calling than making an actual argument. It’s hard to stick to the substance of what’s said when you get accused of being a pawn of the VRWC, as I have been on occasion. But I do the best I can to avoid personal attacks, even if the person is a total loon.

  9. Well, if you didn’t say equal then you win by default πŸ™‚

    Sorry, I assume sharing to be 50%, but you are correct it doesn’t always mean that.

    Actually I can name many Democratic senators that did criticize the spending, and I can name three that did propose cuts and those proposals never made out of the Republican controlled committee. But, in defense of the Repubs, the majority party gets to decide what will be proposed at committee and on the floor. So the majority party doesn’t have to call any Democratic bill if it doesn’t want to. And in the case of appropiations, they haven’t called a single minority bill in four years, whether the bill included cuts or more spending.

    I think the Republicans are currently like a person who wins the lottery. At first that person will splurge and spend like crazy, just because they can. Then that person will realize, “hey, I can’t spend like this forever, I better start managing better.” I think the Repubs will eventually come around to that kind of thinking. I hope at least.

Comments are closed.