February 11, 2008


Unbending on Spending: McCain could become the Reagan of fiscal discipline (Deroy Murdock, 2/11/08, National Review)

For nearly a decade, Republicans have indulged in a spending bacchanal that shredded their moral authority and shocked Republican believers. Like a latter-day Martin Luther, a President McCain may nail his own 95 Theses to the U.S. Capitol’s front door and shame Congress, before it spends again.

Cato Institute researcher Michael Tanner illustrates how Washington’s spending has waned and waxed since 1980. Under President Reagan, overall federal outlays decreased from 22.2 percent of Gross Domestic Product, to 21.2. On President G. H. W. Bush’s watch, spending increased to 21.4 percent. During the Clinton years, expenditures fell to 18.5. And during President G. W. Bush’s tenure, spending boomeranged to 20.7 percent of GDP.

Indeed, to the extent that the conservative psychosis is shaped by spending, Reagan wasn't a conservative and Clinton was. Of course, given that Bill Clinton also hated immigrants because Marielista riots cost him a re-election, he was pretty much hard right.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 11, 2008 7:49 AM

It might be interesting to see those percentages adjusted to exclude military spending -ie, the downsizing savings in the 90's vs the increase in the 00's due to the GWOT.

Posted by: Rick T. at February 11, 2008 9:05 AM

Government spending is not the sole responsibility of the President - control of congress is also important. Clinton had to deal with a hostile congress that didn't want to spend money. He was the only one of the listed presidents in that situation.

Posted by: Brandon at February 11, 2008 10:41 AM

That would be the Republican Congress that the Porkbusters raved about?

Posted by: oj at February 11, 2008 12:52 PM

That would be the Republican congress that took over and tried to actually keep promises and adhere to principles as opposed to the bloated group that got their tales handed to them in '06. I'm not a member of pork busters, but the Republicans certainly forgot that they were supposed to dance with the ones what brought 'em.

Posted by: Patrick H at February 11, 2008 1:41 PM

Yes, OJ. The Porkbusters wanted Perfect, so they killed the good. Funny to watch, if sad for the country. Now they're trying to do the same to McCain, who betrayed them all when he got them good, and they wanted Perfect.

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at February 11, 2008 1:48 PM

Patrick, it was the same Congress, with the same people(with a few exceptions of course). It's easy to not spend money when you don't have the checkbook. People get into politics because they want to help people. The Republicans were dancing with the ones who brought them, but once in power the ones who brought them demanded a ring, that the Republicans would dance with them alone, and leave the others to go hang. People keep talking about the Conservative movement, but I have yet to hear what it is. Why don't you define Conservatism for this board, Patrick, and we'll see if you can get everyone to agree.....

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at February 11, 2008 2:04 PM

Patrick and Robert are spending too much time worrying about principles. They don't really come into play much when it's time to allocate money. The Republican Congress was happy to spend when the President (Bush) wanted to spend on the same people. It's when Clinton wanted to spend on other people that they balked.

Democratic Congresses never balk, they just allocate additional spending.

Posted by: Brandon at February 11, 2008 3:22 PM