Who's the Biggest Spender? Did the Federal Government Spend More under George Bush Sr., Bill Clinton, or George W. Bush? the Record May Surprise You

By Benoit, Gary | The New American, March 22, 2004 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Who's the Biggest Spender? Did the Federal Government Spend More under George Bush Sr., Bill Clinton, or George W. Bush? the Record May Surprise You


Benoit, Gary, The New American


According to conventional wisdom, the federal government grows faster when a Democrat is in the White House than it does when a Republican is president. Yet the record shows that federal spending actually grew at a slower rate under liberal Democrat Bill Clinton than it did under President George Bush (the elder), or is now growing under President George W. Bush. The record also shows that during Clinton's presidency, unlike either Bush administration, the federal government actually recorded budget "surpluses"--although these reported surpluses were not based on reality (more on this below). In fact, looking back at the Clinton era from the vantage point of today's runaway deficit spending, the Clinton presidency now appears to have been a period of relative fiscal restraint book-ended by two bigger-spending presidents named Bush.

Admittedly, Mr. Clinton does not deserve the credit for this relative achievement, since he had difficulty getting all of his big-spending proposals through Congress. Had he succeeded, he may well have come out on top as the nation's all-time profligate. However, liberal Democrats like Clinton must always contend with congressional Republicans who oppose their big-spending programs--if not to tally, at least to a degree. Republican presidents, on the other hand, are able to get many of their fellow Republicans in Congress to support them, not only because of party loyalty, bar also because the Democrats always make sure that the Republican president's spendthrift proposals appear "conservative" compared to what they would like to spend.

Democrats may complain that Republican "socialist-lite" programs are insufficient, but they are still implementing the Democratic agenda, albeit on the installment plan, when Republicans join them in increasing the size and cost of government. The irony is that, when a liberal Democrat is in the White House, the liberal Democrats have a tougher time getting their congressional agenda implemented because of Republican resistance.

This is not just theory. Under the two Bush presidencies and the Clinton presidency it has been reality.

Spend and Spend

Graph #1 shows how much the government has spent each year from 1989* through 2004. During the administration of "conservative" Republican George Bush (the elder), federal outlays grew at an annualized rate of 5.4 percent, from $1.144 trillion in 1989 to $1.409 trillion in 1993. When liberal Democrat Bill Clinton occupied the White House, federal spending continued to climb, but at a slower annualized rate of 3.6 percent, reaching $1.864 trillion in 2001.

More recently, with "conservative" Republican George W. Bush in the White House, federal spending has not only continued to rise, but has risen at a faster rate. In 2002 the federal government spent $2.011 trillion, a 7.9 percent increase over the previous year. In 2003, federal outlays were $2.158 trillion, a 7.3 percent increase. For the current fiscal year ending on September 30, the Bush administration estimates federal spending at $2.319 trillion, a 7.5 percent increase. In short: Federal spending is now growing more than twice as fast with George W. Bush in the White House than it did when Clinton was president.

Of course, much of the increase in spending during George W. Bush's tenure has been for the Defense Department, very much including the war in Iraq, which, a growing number of Americans are coming to realize, was not a defensive war to protect America but an offensive war to enforce UN resolutions and empower the world body. But with Mr. Bush in the White House and Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, the federal budget has grown in other areas as well. Consider:

* Federal outlays for the Department of Agriculture, which includes the food stamp program as well as farm subsidies, have grown from $68.0 billion in 2001 to an estimated $77.7 billion in 2004.

* Spending for the Department of Education has grown from $35.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Who's the Biggest Spender? Did the Federal Government Spend More under George Bush Sr., Bill Clinton, or George W. Bush? the Record May Surprise You
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.