Via David Lightman at the McClatchy Washington Bureau Bush is the biggest spender since LBJ, and arguably a bigger spender than LBJ.
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.
â€œHeâ€™s a big government guy,â€ 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.
â€œHeâ€™s a big spender,â€ Keating said. â€œNo question about it.â€
Take almost any yardstick and Bush generally exceeds the spending of his predecessors.
Discretionary spending — i.e. spending Congress and the President can control, not entitlements like Social Security and Medicare — shot up 5.3% per year for Bush’s first 6 years. Prior to Bush, Johnson had the highest increases at 4.6% per year. It was 3% under Ford, 2.4% under Carter, and 1.9% under Reagan. Clinton is not listed, meaning that discretionary spending went up less under his administration than under Reagan’s.
Now, near the end of the seventh year of his presidency, Bush is positioning himself as a tough fiscal conservative.
He says Congress is proposing to spend $22 billion more in fiscal 2008 than the $933 billion he requested for discretionary programs â€” and that the $22 billion extra would swell over five years to $205 billion.
Eventually, Bush said, â€œtheyâ€™re going to have to raise taxes to pay for it.â€
And so, the president told an Arkansas audience earlier this month, people should brace for â€œwhat they call a fiscal showdown in Washington.
. . .
Bush is getting tough on fiscal policy â€” after running up a record as the most profligate spender in at least 40 years.