Newsflash- Bush a Big Spender!

In what I am sure is shocking news to all of you, despite talking a lot about fiscal conservatism, Bush is actually a big spender:

The numbers are clear, credible and conclusive, added David Keating, the executive director of the Club for Growth, a budget-watchdog group.

“He’s a big spender,” Keating said. “No question about it.”

Take almost any yardstick and Bush generally exceeds the spending of his predecessors.

When adjusted for inflation, discretionary spending — or budget items that Congress and the president can control, including defense and domestic programs, but not entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare — shot up at an average annual rate of 5.3 percent during Bush’s first six years, Slivinski calculates.

Of course, this is not really news. In fact, there has been more than just anecdotal evidence about this for quite some time:

Brian Riedl, a budget analyst at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research group, points to education spending. Adjusted for inflation, it’s up 18 percent annually since 2001, thanks largely to Bush’s No Child Left Behind act.

The 2002 farm bill, he said, caused agriculture spending to double its 1990s levels.

Then there was the 2003 Medicare prescription drug benefit — the biggest single expansion in the program’s history — whose 10-year costs are estimated at more than $700 billion.

And the 2005 highway bill, which included thousands of “earmarks,” or special local projects stuck into the legislation by individual lawmakers without review, cost $295 billion.

The really funny thing about all this is that this “news” is coming the week after the dead-end Bush right just FREAKED THE FUCK OUT about the relatively minor spending increase (by comparison) that went along with the S-Chip expansion. It is almost like the people who still support Bush are as dumb as he is. I guess they just decided they had to draw the line somewhere, and after a couple of trillion dollars pissed away without much comment from the right, that line was Graeme Frost.

That is what we in the business call “smart politics.” Or general idiocy. You decide.

57 replies
  1. 1
    rachel says:

    Well, that’s “borrow-and-spend” governmenting. “Tax-and-spend” governmenting is much worse, y’see?

  2. 2
    Mr. M'Choakumchild says:

    Where is all the ‘no child left behind’ funding going? I don’t see any of it in local school budgets.

  3. 3
    capelza says:

    And Lyndon Johnson had a plan, whether you agreed or not…”The Great Society”.

    Bush just spent like a drunken sailor and we get to be the ones who wake up the morning with our kids pockets turned out empty after and wonder who rolled us.

  4. 4
    Zifnab says:

    And Lyndon Johnson had a plan, whether you agreed or not…”The Great Society”.

    Johnson also got to preside over the first half the Vietnam War. Good thing we’re not stuck in a massive money-sucking quagmire war in some god-forsaken foreign country based on paranoid delusions and bullshit evidence. Oh. Wait. Fuck.

  5. 5
    Alan says:

    This is what pisses me off most about the GOP. Bush and the GOP Congress destroyed the GOP. It has no credibility whatsoever. And the only issue the party has left is the friggin’ anti-choice BS. Only the koolaid drinkers can rally around this party anymore.

  6. 6
    Surabaya Stew says:

    Funny how with all this extra spending, the average person is not feeling any of it. I mean, unless you are a farmer, road builder, sick senior citizen, rich man, or school kid; all this spending (and tax cutting) is not even touching the majority of Americans! The only thing that supprises me about the comparison chart is that his Father is nowhere to be seen on the list of big spenders; didn’t the first Bush also run up huge deficits?

  7. 7
    Alan says:

    Notice too, that the Reagan deficits had more to do with the cost of borrowing. The current crop of Republican posers had the benefit of cheap money to make the myth true–that the GOP is not fiscally conservative.

  8. 8
    Billy K says:

    Clinton was worse.

  9. 9
    F. Frederson says:

    didn’t the first Bush also run up huge deficits?

    Yes, but that’s not what the articles covers. Bush I ran huge deficits, but the levels of spending didn’t grow much under his watch. He inherited a budget in deficit from Reagan/himself, and that was compounded by a mild recession.

  10. 10
    Zifnab says:

    Notice too, that the Reagan deficits had more to do with the cost of borrowing.

    Well, borrowing and military spending. And tax cuts. The Reagan era turned the US Government finances completely on its ear. Reagan was also as corrupt a little SOB as any President before him. But it wasn’t until Bush 41 that you really started to see the fruits of his fiscal policy (unless you count the crash in ’87).

  11. 11
    Tsulagi says:

    It is almost like the people who still support Bush are as dumb as he is.

    Fixed. It’s a race for dumb and dumber with a Medal of Dumberest for those who go the distance.

  12. 12
    r€nato says:

    notice how Clinton is nowhere on that list of presidential big spenders – in fact, government SHRANK while he was in charge.

    No wonder wingers hate him. He refused to follow the wingnut narrative that Dems are fiscally irresponsible and disastrous for business.

  13. 13
    r€nato says:

    FACT: 2/3 of the national debt was run up on the watch of the last three GOP presidents, Bush 43/Bush 41/Reagan.

  14. 14
    chopper says:

    Funny how with all this extra spending, the average person is not feeling any of it. I mean, unless you are a farmer, road builder, sick senior citizen, rich man, or school kid; all this spending (and tax cutting) is not even touching the majority of Americans!

    that’s because most of the spending out of this administration isn’t earmarked for your average joe. its made to sound like it (in the classic Orwellian bill-naming convention republicans use now), but money spent on farmers ends up going to big agribusiness. money spent on medicare D is really just a giveaway to pharmaceutical companies. NCLB, hell i don’t even know where that money went, because local schools aint seeing jack.

    it’s like trickle-down economics, but instead of just cutting taxes for corporations they’re wholesale giving them money straight out of the treasury.

  15. 15
    capelza says:

    Zifnab Says:

    “And Lyndon Johnson had a plan, whether you agreed or not…”The Great Society”.”

    Johnson also got to preside over the first half the Vietnam War. Good thing we’re not stuck in a massive money-sucking quagmire war in some god-forsaken foreign country based on paranoid delusions and bullshit evidence. Oh. Wait. Fuck.

    Sad but true…

    I live in an area that daily reminds me me of the BENEFITS of government spending..ala FDR..our bridges and a lot more are a direct result of FDR’s spending in the 30’s. The damns (cheap hydro..but a mixed legacy for salmon, etc). The GI Bill, for cripes sake..I don’t need to explain how important that was..

    Johnson’s efforts..leading to Headstart greatly benefit the kids in this rural logging and fishing economy with the poor and low income that come with it (especially as both industries are dying or in serious contraction). I have real conflicted emotions about that guy. As a young girl, not yet 12 I remember being pleased that he announced he wouldn’t run again. But he also helped lift many out of poverty.

    Bush..I’m thinking..I really am trying to think of some postive legacy…help a girl out here…

  16. 16
    Alan says:

    @r€nato

    notice how Clinton is nowhere on that list of presidential big spenders – in fact, government SHRANK while he was in charge.

    Which is probably a good argument for divided government. But, frankly, the GOP needs 40 years in the wilderness to clean out its crazies. If the religious crazies were to go third party it wouldn’t take as long.

  17. 17
    Zifnab says:

    notice how Clinton is nowhere on that list of presidential big spenders – in fact, government SHRANK while he was in charge.

    No wonder wingers hate him. He refused to follow the wingnut narrative that Dems are fiscally irresponsible and disastrous for business.

    Imagine how horrible this country will be with Hillary in office. It’ll be the 90s all over again. What a world, what a world.

  18. 18
    Jake says:

    I’m trying to guess how the 28(+/- 5)% will react to this one. I see four possible choices:

    1. “Liar! He is not!”
    2. “Of course he’s had to spend a lot, he’s waging a war against the biggest threat EVA!”
    3. “…Look! Hitlery Clintoon and Braaawk Hussein Obama bin Laden!”
    4. “It would’ve been worse if DemoncRats had their way.”

  19. 19
    capelza says:

    . “Of course he’s had to spend a lot, he’s waging a war against the biggest threat EVA!”

    And wants to cut taxes to pay for it, too!

    It’s this last thing..it is so insane, so disconnected from reality…I mean bug fuck nuts.

  20. 20
    F. Frederson says:

    FACT: 2/3 of the national debt was run up on the watch of the last three GOP presidents, Bush 43/Bush 41/Reagan.

    Well, what matters is debt as a percentage of GDP, not the gross numbers. A graph communicates what has happened over the past 60 years very clearly. It’s roughly the same story as the gross numbers, but a slightly more economically sound way of stating the issue.

  21. 21
    Svensker says:

    Jake, you forgot:

    But Sandy Berger put papers in his pants!

  22. 22
    Tsulagi says:

    And the 2005 highway bill, which included thousands of “earmarks,” or special local projects stuck into the legislation by individual lawmakers without review, cost $295 billion.

    IIRC, one Republican at the time referred to it as the “Leave No Campaign Contributor Behind” bill. That’s been the overriding principle in spending for this administration. Providing the greatest ROI for big contributors.

    He’s a CEO president like that. Our balance sheet is a real testament to his business skills.

    Vote Republican for fiscal responsibility! Amaze even Orwell in his grave with that message.

  23. 23
    Face says:

    Why build strong bridges and solid, new roads in America using US taxpayer cizzay when you can build the same shit in Iraq for triple the price so that all that US tax money can benefit….Iran?

    Republicans: The Tax and Spend…in Iraq…Party

  24. 24

    So tell me, was it really the Republican Congress in the 90s keeping the spending of a Democratic President in check that helped balance the budget, or was it a Democratic President stopping the profligate spending of a Republican Congress?

  25. 25
    TenguPhule says:

    Well, what matters is debt as a percentage of GDP, not the gross numbers.

    Only if you’re a fucking moron. The government doesn’t pay off debt using GDP. They pay it off through taxes.

    The interest on that debt is becoming bigger then lots of the domestic programs already. Its like a credit card bill from hell.

  26. 26
    TenguPhule says:

    Where is all the ‘no child left behind’ funding going? I don’t see any of it in local school budgets.

    On mandatory teaching materials from a Bush family education company. And no, I’m not kidding.

  27. 27
    Joshua says:

    Let’s not forget the Democratic Congress came up with a way to PAY for the SCHIP expansion. In other words, they proposed new spending AND figured out a way to pay for it. Some people (like me) might find the payment method to be somewhat objectionable, but at least they didn’t say they could just cut taxes and the money for the program will be there 5 years later.

    Republicans are children.

  28. 28
    LITBMueller says:

    Don’t y’all know that 9/11 CHANGED EVERYTHING???

    Dude…EVERYTHING!

  29. 29
    Zifnab says:

    So tell me, was it really the Republican Congress in the 90s keeping the spending of a Democratic President in check that helped balance the budget, or was it a Democratic President stopping the profligate spending of a Republican Congress?

    Actually, to be fair, Clinton had big plans for budgetary spending in ’92-’93 (see: Hillarycare) that were repeatedly hamstrung and filibustered by the Republicans in Congress. And after the Republican takeover in ’94, it was quite a bit of ugly fighting – with Gingrich shutting down the government and Clinton wielding the veto pen like a lightsaber – before both sides finally settled into decent negotiation. Both sides kept each other in check. It was actually a beautiful thing, if you missed all the dirt digging and Monica-gating. The model of how government was supposed to work.

  30. 30
    jrg says:

    Funny how with all this extra spending, the average person is not feeling any of it. I mean, unless you are a farmer, road builder, sick senior citizen, rich man, or school kid; all this spending (and tax cutting) is not even touching the majority of Americans!

    My girlfriend is an elementary school teacher and she cannot stand NCLB. This money is not going to kids, it’s going to a bloated Washington bureaucracy.

    But hey, that’s the Republican party for you – rail about how government does not work, then prove it when elected.

  31. 31
    jcricket says:

    But Sandy Berger put copies of papers in his pants!

    Not to defend the guy, but copies.

    And just in case anyone was wondering, CBO estimates for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars now stand at 2.4 TRILLION DOLLARS! Say it with a Dr. Evil like cackle and it’s still not any better. That includes the $750 BILLION in interest payments on the debt we’ve run up on these mismanaged misguided adventures in cowboy-ism (I’ll give you the Afghan war was a noble cause, it’s just been mismanaged and understaffed).

    I’m not saying these two are equivalent, but as John points out S-CHIP is a fucking drop in the bucket compared to this. And even shoring up Social Security, Medicare and everything else in the federal government is on the hook for is basically equal to the amount we’re blowing annually for Cheney’s neocon adventure in the middle east (sounds like a crappy Disney ride).

    Once again, the party that’s entire playbook consists of tax cuts (nothing more than tax cuts, misty watered colored tax cuts, of the way we were…) and regressive christianist pandering (evolution bad, earth flat, contraception is abortion) is out of ideas to contribute to the conversation.

    40 years in the wilderness again is too short, unless they can drive both the hardcore elements (Libertarians and Christianists) out of the party.

  32. 32
    r€nato says:

    Well, what matters is debt as a percentage of GDP, not the gross numbers.

    Agreed (somewhat…), but my point was not about whether the current national debt is a problem and if so, how big of one. Merely stating that of all the debt accumulated by the US in ~230 years of existence, fully 2/3 of it was racked up by the last three GOP presidents, those stalwarts of fiscal prudence Bush 43/Bush 41/Reagan.

  33. 33
    kritter says:

    The wingers hate Clinton because he left a surplus, signed welfare reform into law, and was able to work with a Republican Congress.He even earned praise from Alan Greenspan for his economic acumen. Worst of all, he not only survived impeachment, he thrived after it, leaving office with a 70% approval rating.

  34. 34
    capelza says:

    40 years in the wilderness again is too short, unless they can drive both the hardcore elements (Libertarians and Christianists) out of the party.

    The NeoCons, don’t forget the “”Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business” NeoCons.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaB6gMj4wQw

  35. 35
    gypsy howell says:

    I see CFG is one step closer to disavowing Bush’s conservatism completely, so they can find some new fencepost to turn into a president in 2008 and continue on their merry way destroying America.

  36. 36

    […] More at Balloon Juice the Heretik and the Gun Toting Liberal. H/t Memeorandum. […]

  37. 37

    But hey, that’s the Republican party for you – rail about how government does not work, then prove it when elected.

    Weren’t the Republicans going to eliminate the entire Dept of Education back in the early 1990s? I remember Gingrich and others making a big deal of this at the time.

    Right now, I think it’d be a good idea. Revoke NCLB, and get the damn federal government out of education. All they’ve succeeded in doing is bringing southern standards to the rest of the nation. Not something to be proud of.

  38. 38
    Jimmmmm says:

    Yes, Tengu, that Neil Bush really DOES get around, doesn’t he?

  39. 39

    Obviously this spending thing is a problem. That’s why y’all should vote for Rudy Giuliani!

  40. 40
    Alan says:

    @jrg,

    My girlfriend is an elementary school teacher and she cannot stand NCLB. This money is not going to kids, it’s going to a bloated Washington bureaucracy.

    Let’s not forget Faith Based Initiatives. Instead of inflating a government bureaucracy we’re now helping religious hucksters build their own little empires off government largess.

    And yeah, nobody who’s actually involved with teaching kids likes NCLB, FWIU.

  41. 41
    Pb says:

    I trust the GDP numbers to accurately measure the size of our economy about as much as I trust the CPI numbers to accurately measure inflation — which is to say, not that much. Also note that our “growth” has been largely debt-driven, which is not sustainable — if Bush is running the United States like a corporation, then I’d posit that the corporation in question doesn’t really have a business model–or if it does, it surely isn’t legal, but rather somewhere between, say, Enron and Halliburton.

  42. 42
    jrg says:

    All they’ve succeeded in doing is bringing southern standards to the rest of the nation. Not something to be proud of.

    There are communities in the South that don not consist entirely of flat-earth Republican hicks (I live in a large blue speck in a red state).

    The bottom line is that you cannot expect the same level of performance from a kid that goes home to a homeless shelter vs. a kid that goes home to educated parents that read to them every day.

    It’s a complete waste for the federal government to spend taxpayer dollars in an effort to make teachers appear more “accountable” for problems they have no control over.

    The vast majority of teachers already want to make a positive difference. They are already accountable to their communities and school boards, which have wildly different expectations, levels, and attitudes about education.

    All NCLB does is makes teachers accountable for the sins of parents and communities, which is particularly amusing coming from an administration that refuses to be held accountable for it’s own actions.

    NCLB is nothing more than an expensive, taxpayer funded dog and pony show.

  43. 43
    Jake says:

    I see CFG is one step closer to disavowing Bush’s conservatism completely…

    Yep. I’ve heard “Is Bush reeeelly a conservative?” from more than a few knowers of the known truth. They’ll be the ones claiming GWB was really a Clenis-Controlled DemBot in a few years.

  44. 44
    Tony J says:

    Ah, but y’see, you’re missing the Big Picture here. The Neo-Con Overmind has this all worked out to the last decimal point, and those eggheads in the Neuro-Bunker know math like you wouldn’t believe. Seriously. You wouldn’t believe it.

    For those of you with an unfortunate lack of faith in the Overmind’s stratactical brilliance, The Plan all along was to use Chinese funding to pay for a global military campaign to tighten U.S. control over the very same energy resources China needs to become a threat to America’s sole-superpower status. It’s funny, yes? Those stupid Chinese actually paying for the rope that the U.S. will use to choke their dreams of global influence out of them. They’re actually containing themselves, thus proving the superiority of free-market capitalism.

    Whadd’ya mean it’s not working? Just give it another twenty or thirty Freidman Units, you’ll see.

  45. 45
    Rick Taylor says:

    I’m trying to guess how the 28(+/- 5)% will react to this one. I see four possible choices:

    1. “Liar! He is not!”
    2. “Of course he’s had to spend a lot, he’s waging a war against the biggest threat EVA!”
    3. “…Look! Hitlery Clintoon and Braaawk Hussein Obama bin Laden!”
    4. “It would’ve been worse if DemoncRats had their way.”

    I’ve seen mostly 2 with a bit of 4. 2 is usually accompanied with eye rolling; well of course we’re in debt you stupid liberal, haven’t you noticed there’s a war on? Bush was mounting up debt before the war as well, but the endless occupation of Iraq has given the Republicans an blanket excuse. I’ve heard no response to the counterpoint, well then maybe keeping the Bush tax cuts doesn’t make sense seeing as we’re fighting this war?

    Alternatively, this is one point along with immigration where the right wing feels it’s acceptable to criticize Bush. No President is perfect after all, and they can support him for his stand on the war on terror, and it’s a given liberals would spend more, raise taxes, and of course are on the wrong side of social issues.

  46. 46
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    Let’s not forget Faith Based Initiatives. Instead of inflating a government bureaucracy we’re now helping religious hucksters build their own little empires off government largess.

    Fuck, I’ve been trying to forget them. What a dumptruck full of horseshit that whole thing turned out to be (to the surprise of very few, I’m sure).

  47. 47
    Zifnab says:

    Slightly OT, but still pertaining to Republican Hypocrasy and spending habits.

    This is absolutely grand. You know how earlier we were saying how Republicans only seem to stand for one thing – tax cuts? Apparently, they don’t even stand for that.

    “A one-year [AMT] patch is not my highest priority. There are not many people in my state who are affected by that [tax],” said Sen. Trent Lott (Miss.), the Senate’s second-ranking Republican.

    Under pay-go rules [definition], Democrats would have to pay for a one-year AMT patch, which would cost $55 billion. This has fueled speculation that Democrats will override pay-go rules to pass the AMT fix. However, Democrats need 60 votes to get around the budget rules.

    Lott said there are “more than the necessary votes” in his conference to stop Democrats from reaching the 60 votes necessary to waive pay-go rules.

    ~via Kos

  48. 48
    Rick Taylor says:

    Zifnab wrote:

    “A one-year [AMT] patch is not my highest priority. There are not many people in my state who are affected by that [tax],” said Sen. Trent Lott (Miss.), the Senate’s second-ranking Republican.

    Interesting! Even Paul Krugman was dead sure they would amend the alternative minimum tax; it’s one of the arguments he used for how irresponsible the Bush tax cuts were, because in calculating future deficits the administration left out reform of the AMT. Maybe Krugman was wrong. Perhaps tax cuts are only for the top fraction of a percent of the population.

  49. 49

    All NCLB does is makes teachers accountable for the sins of parents and communities, which is particularly amusing coming from an administration that refuses to be held accountable for it’s own actions.

    That’s because parents don’t want to be held to account.

    I begun hearing stories from teachers 20 years ago of kids showing up to school who didn’t know how to tie their own shoes…. and the parents expected the school to teach them.

    My niece is three years old, and my brother and his wife gave up trying to push her to potty train. Now they’re educated and responsible, and I’m sure in the next year they’ll get this done, but…

    My girlfriend notes that if Americans still used cloth diapers, they’d have a BIG incentive to get kids potty trained much faster.

  50. 50

    The AMT confuses me. I’ve never figured out exactly what level of income you have to have to hit it.

  51. 51
    The Populist says:

    Borrow and spend…I do not get why these idiots on the right cry about having their “wallets picked” by those on the left when the last Dem in office balanced the budget and had us set up for some great times and this maroon and his formerly complicit congress (actually, the new congress is just as complicit!) spent through it like a child who found his daddy’s AMEX card.

    These morons are going to bankrupt this country to a point where we will be in serious trouble. They just don’t care. As long as the superrich get their tax breaks, we can all eat dirt for all they care.

  52. 52
    The Populist says:

    Other Steve,

    When I was single, the AMT kicked in when I made 70K one year about 7 years ago.

    Now that we make over 100K, we get hit all the time. Every year after our initial wedding year, we barely got back anything or we owed. Funny, the “tax cuts” were in effect and all I’ve ever seen is $300. I took that and donated it to a couple charities.

    We bought a house this year (yeah, I know…bad timing!) so hopefully all the tax breaks on mortgage interest allows us to get back some of that money in March.

  53. 53
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Based on the success of NCLB, I am proposing federal legislation vastly increasing the number and sophistication of smoke detectors in place in American houses and businesses.

    I believe this improved ability to detect fires should eventually reduce their number and eventually keep them from breaking out altogether.

  54. 54
    Davis X. Machina says:

    I do not get why these idiots on the right cry about having their “wallets picked” by those on the left

    It’s not that their wallets are being picked, it’s that the post-picking contents are being funnelled to people different from them, whom they don’t like.

    You don’t hear much bitching about federal overspending on debt service (goes to bondholders, else default) or defense (blowing shit up), or pensions (obligated) — just domestic discretionary spending.

    And there’s not that much of that — ca. 20% of the budget.

  55. 55
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    Doesn’t the Laffer Curve say that rising spending means decreasing expenditures?

  56. 56
    TenguPhule says:

    The AMT confuses me. I’ve never figured out exactly what level of income you have to have to hit it.

    It kicks in at $72,975 for singles, $145,950 for couples.

    See here for more information

    Basically if you get caught in it, you’re pretty well boned since most deductions are not counted in figuring the AMT.

  57. 57
    jcricket says:

    Basically if you get caught in it, you’re pretty well boned since most deductions are not counted in figuring the AMT.

    Yep, in parallel-taxlandia (under AMT) all sorts of tax planning basically goes out the window.

    I’m in favor of major tax code reform. I personally believe in a fairly simple, progressive tax bracket system, with fewer deductions and loopholes. I also believe corporations should pay their fair share of taxes (their share is at the lowest point in 50+ years).

    Get rid of the AMT, pay for it by rolling back corporate tax breaks and tax breaks on the rich. Why is it so shocking to think that rolling the taxes back up to (gasp!) the high 30s or low 40s for people making $200k or $500k or more would be a pretty simple solution to a lot of financial woes. And let’s shore up Social Security by eliminating the wage/income cap (or just raising it 50% or something). Hell, roll capital gains tax rates back to 20% instead of 15% while we’re at it. No estate tax repeal, just tax it at ordinary income rates after some mild cap. Rich people can clearly afford it.

    I forgot to add, don’t start another unnecesssary trillion dollar war!

    Unless you’re still a believer in the Laffer-curve as the “be all end all” of tax theory, simply raising rates a moderate amount on the ultra-rich would have nothing but a positive effect on the state of US finances.

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