You can say you’re one thing all you want, but if the evidence proves otherwise…
WASHINGTON â€” 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€
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 â€” or budget items that Congress and the president can control, including defense and domestic programs, but not entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare â€” shot up at an average annual rate of 5.3 percent during Bushâ€™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!